A Skeptic’s Guide to a New Year’s Resolution
As we plow through the holiday season New Year’s Day is soon approaching. A skeptic, grouch, or curmudgeon may say that they absolutely loathe New Year’s resolutions. This is my attempt to open your mind about ways you can pick and choose the qualities of resolutions you like and pass on the parts you dislike.
Here are some examples of common New Year’s resolutions that blogs tout:
- Give up __________, etc.
Save more money
- Do more _________, etc.
Go on more hikes
Spend more time with family
Go back to college
- Diet etc.
Less money on fast food
No more candy
- Behavior etc.
Promise to call parents more often
Be more productive
Of course this works beautifully for some, and that’s okay. But you are reading this blog, so likely those choices make you a little queasy. If you’re needing some validation as you consider choosing a resolution, here is a list of permissions for you.
Resolution Setting List of Permissions
- You don’t have to choose something that relates to your appearance, physical health, or even behavioral habits.
- You don’t have to make your resolution public or post it on social media.
- Skip out on the accountability buddy and keep it totally private.
- No need to track it in a bullet journal or fancy app. It can just be something that lives in your internal world.
- You’re allowed to forget about it forever, or find it written down somewhere down the line when you’re cleaning your desk (finally).
- You can add to, update, delete, edit, and customize your resolution as you go.
What’s the point of these permissions? New Year’s resolutions- like so many other well-meaning traditions- can actually become unhealthy or toxic for folks. Maybe they set an unreasonable goal that they fail and then feel bad about.
Or maybe they don’t have anyone to share it with so become lonely and don’t feel as fulfilled. Even worse, sometimes resolutions can set off an existential crisis. But you can take the resolution back, and make it your own. Or you can totally skip it and rest easy in that decision.
IF you do decide to set one, here are some suggestions that might sit better with you:
- Try setting a one word or phrase intention instead of a SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely) goal. Something like “clarity” or “peace of mind.” Whatever that means to you, let it become a check-in weekly or monthly so that you can use it as a beacon of reflection.
- If you do choose a SMART goal, spend some more time on what each of the principles of SMART mean to you for this resolution. For example, “measurable” may have an obvious meaning but it can be unique to you. Try filling in your own The Sims ™ needs bubbles for whatever measure you’re targeting- like the need for creativity.
- Play around with deductive and inductive reasoning when considering your personal resolutions. Do you have a specific goal that comes to mind that you need to expand upon and see the larger meaning of? Or do you have ideologies that you want to bring down to earth to turn into personal goals? Get curious.
New Years is an excuse to pause and reflect on your life and determine where you want to go next. It’s got a built in therapeutic goal-setting quality that’s already set within our culture. If you want to take advantage of that, go for it!
Or if you need some support in this New Year give therapy a try. Since this seems to be important to you, we may be a good fit for counseling services. I’m available for free consultations in South Austin, reach out to me here.
And for the skeptics reading, feel free to take this blog with a grain of salt!
Julia Stamman, LPC-Intern
Supervised by Ann Stoneson, LPC-S