New year, new me. How many times have you heard that in the last couple weeks? It seems that as soon as the year draws to a close, most people are talking about how they are going to change starting Jan. 1. New gym memberships rise more in January than in any other month in the year; it’s as if everyone is ready to make a lifestyle change. But as we all know, most New Year’s resolutions are broken sooner or later. Everyone has their own reasons for dissolving their resolutions, but the primary reason that most resolutions are not met lies in the concept of New Year’s resolutions because they are simply not feasible.
Jan. 1 is like life’s natural reset button. It’s a fresh start, and the urge to reinvent yourself is understandable. However, the flaw with reinvention is that it is not possible to wake up one day and completely change your lifestyle. A big goal without a plan is a recipe for disaster. Too often, resolutions are created by looking at other people’s expectations — reading a magazine that tells you how to get fit by summer. While the beginning of the year is symbolic, if someone truly wants to make a change in their lives, any day of the year can be the ideal day to start.
How can we make New Year’s resolutions realistic? First, stop calling them New Year’s resolutions. Call them goals. A goal is not associated with the whole “new year, new me” phenomenon and is universally applicable in all aspects of life. Second, start small. Instead of trying to go from being a hard-core carnivore to a vegan, maybe start by cutting out just red meat. It is the little things, after all, that make a difference in the long run. Finally, think inwardly. What do you want to do? Not what society deems, not what your friends and family say, but what do you yourself want? The simple act of reflection can have a surprising effect on you and your goals.
The whole idea of “new year, new me” is preposterous because you are never going to be a whole new person. You can change the way you look and act, but there is no brand-new you. And that is completely okay. If people only understood that they do not need to change only because of a holiday, there would be more healthy, completed New Year’s resolutions in the world. But remember, it is probably always going to be new year, same you.
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A version of this appeared in the Monday, January 22 print edition. Email Shraddha at [email protected]