6 Reasons to Downsize Your New Year’s Resolutions for 2021
What should you do about your resolutions.
Honestly. What a year.
Maybe we say that every year, you know, that we feel like we’ve dragged ourselves to the finish line of another year whilst we mentally prepare for the next. But this year does feel different.
It’s not every year we’re hit by a global pandemic, never-ending lockdowns and unemployment rates that have hit an all-time high. So it’s safe to say that this year is different.
This year has been tough. Whether it’s isolating from loved ones, losing your job or suffering from the constant anxieties of getting ill, life has been turned upside down this year and it’s hard to sometimes feel like you are staying afloat.
And then we’re hit with January. January where we’re expected to dust ourselves off, pick up a pen and write down who we want to be in the new year. But I’m putting that pen down and putting my slippers back on. Why you might ask? Well, there are 6 reasons.
1. Pressure Cooker of 2020 (We Need New Resolutions)
All the chaos of last year has meant that the pressure has kept mounting. Even going to the supermarkets has been a struggle. Empty shelves, face masks, constantly disinfecting my already sore hands.
It’s been different, to say the least.
And now, let’s not get this confused, it’s all completely necessary and totally logical. It’s just been a hell of a year. Disinfecting my hands 20 times a day and having rough skin for a few days is no price to pay for keeping my family safe. It’s a no brainer.
But the mental toll this year has taken has been huge.
Globally we’ve all suffered. How big or small is not the topic here, it’s just that we have. So as January edges ever closer it got me thinking, do we really need more goals, resolutions that add to the stress and more pressure? For me, the answer is no.
Reason 1: After a year we’ve just had, the less pressure, the less chaos, the better.
2. January — The Month of Audacious Goal Setting
For some reason, the start of anything always feels like the opportune time to set goals and set the infamous New Years resolutions. Birthday, Monday mornings, the start of a new month, and within that category sits the daddy of them all, the start of a new year. It’s like we forget that January 1st is actually just another day, it’s become this opportunity to reinvent ourselves to become something better.
Like all the days before were wasted and we were waiting for January 1st to allow us to start afresh. Really, December 31st was just as good a time to start something new as January 1st is but hey ho, we continue every year to pick January 1st to be in with the new and out with the old.
And then proceeds the audacious New Years resolutions. Facebook posts, Twitter comments, Instagram stories flood the feeds with ambitions of a better 2021. But as the theme emerges as ‘self-improvement’ things get a little out of hand.
Lose 20 pounds by March 2021
Read 50 books by June 2021
Triple my income by April 2021
The ambition is admirable but the pressure is insurmountable. To read 50 books by June is roughly a book a week. Okay, that sounds doable, right? And it would be if you prioritised your time to achieve that goal. The trouble is, often we don’t set just one goal because one goal makes us feel insufficient, instead, we set several.
“Read 50 books by June 2021.”
And that’s when things become unachievable. To read a book a week you’ll perhaps need to allocate an hour a day to reading. To lose 20 pounds by March you’ll need to allocate an hour a day to exercise and a substantial amount of time to working out your dieting etc. To triple your income by April, well, I don’t even know where you’d start with that one. It’s a pretty big hill to be climbing but let’s say you’d need to allocate 3 hours a day to your side-hustle in order to do that. That’s 5 hours per day. Consistently, every day.
And maybe at this point your thinking “that’s fine, I’ve got 24 hours in a day, what’re 5 hours?” But take into account the washing, cleaning, working, eating, resting, socialising. All this results in two things:
Too much to keep up with
2. The inevitable downfall
Reason 2: It’s a cliche.
3. Ambition is The Enemy – New Years Resolutions
When it comes to the topic of ambition we only talk about the good things it brings. Ambitious individuals climb to the top of the ladder, the top of the podium and by default, the top of life. Ambitious people are those all over Instagram posing with Ferraris, flying first-class to Dubai and living their best life whilst we all pull ourselves to work each day, trying to get by.
You fall into the trap of thinking that only if you were a little more ambitious, you’d maybe be able to do the things that you aspire to be doing. You’d be able to live a life like your favourite celebrities.
The trouble is, we don’t apply a ‘little ambition’ we get a little heavy with the ambition juice and end up pouring a triple shot and drink it neat, instead of a single shot with ice and coke. Being overly ambitious is wasteful because you set unachievable new years resolutions, then feel bad when you don’t achieve them and end up wasting half a year. But it’s glaringly obvious why we do this.
Small goals aren’t sexy. Noone’s going to be impressed if you say “I want to read 10 books this year” or “I want to increase my income by 3%”. You know that people will mark you down as unambitious and ‘going nowhere’.
Rule 3: It doesn’t work. I’m sure you’ve heard the stat by now that between 80–90% of people don’t achieve their new year’s resolutions… no surprise there.
4. Oh, Self-Improvement, Yawn
This topic really riles me up so apologies in advance.
Self-improvement is two things. 1. Focused on you and 2. about getting better. It’s absolutely not about constantly comparing yourself to Fred next door and being upset when he’s earning $2,000 per month more than you. It’s about working out where you are, how you want to get better and what you need to get there.
What it’s not:
It’s not improving because someone else told you you need to.
It’s not trying to get better because you’re trying to keep up with models on Instagram.
It’s not about improving your life by x100 in the next 12 minutes.
It’s boring to keep reading about people who have x100 their life in as many minutes because we know it’s just not true. How can it be true? If you’re selling a course on productivity because you manage to get up at 5 am 3 days a week something isn’t adding up.
It’s ironic that self-improvement is entitled ‘self’-improvement and yet we look to others constantly to understand how to improve. The answer lies within you. Only you will make yourself get up at 5 am, only you will read books if you are motivated to do so.
You are in the driving seat.
You might think you can lean over and let someone else drive for a while. But ultimately, you are the one determining where this car is going.
Don’t set goals because other people are. If you want to set a new goal you must think about it carefully. Make sure it’s what you want. It’s going to impact your life significantly so ensure that it’s worth the time commitment.
Rule 4: Because it’s not cemented in the core principles of self-improvement.
5. Most Important Does It Actually Improve Your Life? And If So, How?
The other thing to consider here is if the goals you set are actually going to improve your life. It’s curious with 8 billion people in the world that the same goals come up time and time again. Mostly around losing weight, learning more and increasing your income. Those seem to be the trends that come up time and time again.
The goal of reading more is always a good one.
Let’s say we fast forward a year and you’ve read 100 books this year. What’s improved in your life? How will reading 100 books next year help with your life wellbeing? It’s not to say it won’t, it’s just to ask the question how will it.
Will you feel better about yourself? Well, you could probably feel better about yourself if you stopped telling yourself you need to read more.
Will you know more? Well, reading books might not be the best way for you to learn. It could be that you’d learn twice as much in half the time from watching YouTube.
Will you feel like you are adequate because you read stories of other people reading a lot? I hate to go all Bridget Jones on you here but you are enough, just as you are.
The point is, there is no right or wrong. If you want to read a million books next year go for it. Just make sure you are doing it for the right reasons. Make sure that when you consider a goal you run through how it will improve things for you.
A goal is a big commitment, we’re talking 7–8 hours a week minimum for a year. That’s a lot of time. That’s 7–8 hours less a week with your family and friends. Is it worth that?
Rule 5: Because most goals won’t improve my life that much.
6. 2021 a Year of Having a Good Day (Better Resolutions)
You know, when I think about goals, really I see a destination to reach. A milestone, a line in the sand that says ‘yes I’ve made it’. And there’s nothing wrong with that but what it avoids is the present. It says nothing about just focusing on the day in front of you.
Usually, goals are formatted in the following way:
I want to improve ____ by ____% in the next ____ months.
And that can be achieved in many ways. You could do nothing for 4 months and then spend every waking hour slaving away at this goal to achieve it by month 6. Instead, I’m adopting a new approach.
Instead, my endeavour is to look no further than 24 hours ahead. If I’m writing, I’m all in on the words on the page. If I’m spending time with my family, I’m completely there. If I’m reading, I’m actively reading the words on the page.
Rule 6: Because my focus is just having a good day.
To Summarise – New Years Resolutions
2020 was a hell of a year, take the pressure off.
January is a total cliche, New Years resolutions won’t magically happen.
We set too many goals to achieve very few.
Self-improvement shouldn’t be something you do because everyone else is.
Self-improvement should aim to improve yourself.
2021, for me, is about having 1 good day at a time.