Rethinking what it means to set goals for ourselves
From late December to early January, the internet is riddled with memes generally belonging to four categories: empty bank accounts, being drunk from Dec. 24 to Jan. 2, cringey family stories, and, my personal favorite, all the ‘new year, new me’ bullshit. As if overriding our digestive systems with champagne and Jameson somehow flushes out all the toxicity from the previous year, leaving us with a blank-slate liver to tackle the new year with.
Honestly, New Year’s resolutions are pretty dumb. You can search the crap out of it: in January 2013, Forbes reported that only 8 per cent of people achieve their New Year’s resolutions, and in January 2017, Business Insider reported that 80 per cent of resolutions fail by the second week of February. But why? Why is it so difficult to set a goal—a singular goal—and follow through with it?
About a year ago, The New York Times listed tips for making and keeping resolutions. Just a few days ago, The Guardian published an article that touched on similar points: make a personal plan, join a support community, focus on one goal at a time, find what motivates you, externalize your goals, etc. All good advice, sure, but these fluff articles still have a hollow ring to them.
There are so many issues with New Year’s resolutions (not the inherent concept of goal-setting), but mainly it’s the localization of goal-setting to one check-point window in the year and the pressure to make that window. Realistically, we change so much throughout the year, and it’s important to recognize how your goals evolve with you. On top of the pressure to make a New Year’s resolution, there’s also pressure to make your resolution fit into a cutback-box. For most, resolutions consist of goals like: spend less money, go out less, watch less Netflix, start going to [insert physical activity], read that book, eat less junk, pay off debt, etc.
But what if your resolution was stuff you should do more of? Laugh more. Go outside more. Call more friends. Have more dinners at home. Think you’d have an easier time sticking to those resolutions? Melbourne-based queer artist @frances_cannon posted “Frances Cannon’s Big 2019 List” on Jan. 2, and it may surprise you in all the best ways. Cannon lists goals such as: take a breath, let go of someone who hurt you, apply for something that scares you, tell a really good joke, call someone you haven’t called in a while, smell a rose and many more goals, both small and large. It’s time we start rethinking the wide range of what goals can be for each individual, and accepting that self love is both loving ourselves for accomplishing those goals, and loving ourselves for accepting when we simply cannot.
Feature graphic by @spooky_soda