This Is the Only New Year’s Resolution I’m Making This Year (and Every Year)

published Jan 7, 2022
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This might be controversial, but I believe New Year’s resolutions are mostly a sham. While this time of year can be a great opportunity for self-reflection and finding inspiration, most resolutions fail because they’re treated like calendar-driven obligations. I find that they often lead to feelings of personal failure and disappointment, and that they rarely result in meaningful, permanent shifts.

There have only been two resolutions I’ve kept in my entire adult life — a rarity, according to research that says that 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail by mid-February. In both of these instances, I was left feeling bereft. I had surprisingly and painstakingly accomplished what I set out to do, but I didn’t feel like a different person. In fact, I didn’t feel any happier at all. One year, I lost the pounds I wanted to lose, and when I finally fit into my “dream dress size,” all I felt was the sadness of a life not well lived. I was having a lot more fun and felt more carefree before I set out to complete my so-called transformation. The other resolution I kept was gaining over 10,000 followers on my Instagram poetry account, and all it left me with was the shame of having compromised my art to reach that number. 

I realized that the only reason I ever made a New Year’s resolution was because of the feeling I thought it would bring me. Why did I want to tone up and go down a couple sizes? I mistakenly believed it would be the thing to make me feel hot and confident. Why did I want to get my manuscript published? To feel accomplished, self-assured, and validated. The only reason I made it my 2020 resolution to find love was because of the fulfillment I thought it would bring me that I was too lazy and afraid to go searching for within myself.

Most of my New Year’s resolutions have been designed to treat the symptoms of my unhappiness and dissatisfaction but never any of the underlying causes. This is why I either easily give up on my New Year’s resolutions or why I’m left with a sense of emptiness after managing to keep them. The only way to create lasting change is to truly put effort into growing as a person. This doesn’t mean that there are no wishes that I’ll be working toward granting myself in 2022, but my objectives should be secondary to my focus on personal growth and joy.

Here’s the thing: I don’t have to wait until my book has been picked up, I’ve finally gotten a raise, or I’ve gone on my dream trip to Italy to start feeling better about myself. I can make a true attempt to start feeling more positive and self-assured now. For example, I can slowly start building a stronger sense of financial security by saving X amount of dollars each week or month. I don’t have to be a certain size to feel sexy and confident, but going on walks and getting my body moving regularly helps make me feel healthy and like I’m building a glow. 

My plan is to focus on how I want to feel, and then take action from that place to become who I want to become. So my only New Year’s resolution this year (and every year) is a promise of continued personal growth. To keep myself accountable and help navigate my daily life, I’ve created a small list of steps and choices I’ll take in 2022 (and every year after).

Let go of what no longer serves a purpose.

To call in the things I would like to expand upon in the coming year, I have to let go of what no longer serves me. Making goals and growing my to-do list without addressing the unhealthy habits that outweigh my efforts isn’t conducive to anything productive. Making a commitment to let go of the behaviors, material objects, thoughts, feelings, and people that keep me from being my highest self is the best service I can do for myself. 

I realize “useless” may sound harsh when it’s applied to people, but the reality of the situation is that anyone who causes you to feel negatively, as lovely of a person as they may be, isn’t serving your personal development. A person can be another’s self-destructive habit. I’m taking note of what and who in my life causes me to feel negative emotions or distress. I’m making a commitment to continually identify factors that lead to negative feelings and to minimize their occurrence.

Holding onto people or things I’ve outgrown or that cause me pain holds me back. So in 2022, I’ll be letting go of some toxicity in my life by unfollowing certain social media accounts, significantly reducing my alcohol intake, and breaking up with a friend who has repeatedly hurt my feelings.

Identify what brings positive feelings.

Identifying the things that bring me positive feelings is just as important as pinpointing what feels toxic. Practicing more of what brings me joy and peace can help me flow through both my daily life and long-term journey with a more positive mindset. 

My personal growth will heavily rely on making time for the things that nourish me most. I want to focus on spending my energy on the things that feel right to me instead of the things that feel unnatural and forced. I’m letting go of the fear of shifting my priorities around to follow these pleasures and pursuits.

Things I’ll be making more time for are reading, painting, personal fiction projects, hiking, and meditation. Connecting with the things that bring me more happiness will grant me the energy to stay centered, present, and motivated. 

Practice gratitude.

To help boost my mental health, I’ll be improving on my feelings of positivity by expressing gratitude on a daily basis. According to Harvard Health, psychological research shows that practicing gratitude is associated with greater happiness. Other research shows that gratitude can significantly improve the quality of sleep. 

My plan is to simply vocalize, write down, or meditate on the things I’m thankful for and why. I’ll be taking it one step further when time allows by creating art inspired by the people and things I’m grateful for. By fostering gratitude as a habit, my goal is to feel happier and healthier, to build better relationships, and to become more at peace with who I am and what I have. 

Cultivate mindfulness.

Research shows that cultivating mindfulness helps achieve happiness and is effective at helping treat anxiety and depression. The same study claims, “Mindfulness is associated with both a sense of purpose in life and engagement in activities, which are also connected with positive outcomes.”

I want to become more aware and present in my daily life to be able to pinpoint my needs, where to place my focus, and identify the thoughts and feelings that cause me to react impulsively. Mindfulness will save me unnecessary stress and anxiety about the past and future. Taking the time to be present will allow me the “me time” to find more creativity and energy — and to recognize the successes and victories I should be celebrating. To practice more mindfulness, I plan on carving out more time for meditation and journaling, and allowing myself to live more in each moment (for example, occasionally putting my phone away).