The Only New Year’s Resolution You’ll Ever Need

“Trying is the first step to failure.”

– HOMER SIMPSON

I don’t care much for New Year’s Resolutions. The idea of sitting down to make a list of things I must or must not do. Frankly it makes me want to jam a pen in my eye. (Which would, incidentally, be less painful than watching as I inevitably fail to stick at any of them.)

My feeling is the exercise is more about indulging false hopes than it is about setting specific, measurable goals. Where we end up writing out these fairy-tale type lists. Where we say that this year we’re finally going to become the perfect version of ourselves – the person we were always meant to be.

Instead of coming to terms with who we actually are and the hand we’ve been dealt. Instead of appreciating what we have and accepting what currently is. Instead of taking stock and reflecting on the painful lessons of the previous year.

Instead, we make the same mistake by charging head first into the new year – setting our expectations sky high and then… BAM! 

2020 smacks us in the face with a baseball bat (or a cricket bat if you’re British).

The question then becomes, what’s left?

What’s left when your identity as a super high-achieving what-the-fuck ever comes crashing down to earth? (Side note: terrible pun for a pilot.) When all your goals, aspirations and plans go out the window faster than a teenage boy climaxes? (Side note: just terrible.) When your partner leaves you? When your career is left in tatters? When close relatives or friends pass away? When your own health deteriorates and you become wholly dependant on others?

What’s left?

That’s what’s happened hasn’t it? For so many of us this year. It’s forced us to ask some very difficult questions. To come to terms with difficult life circumstances out of our control. To think deeply about our relationships and our careers. About the values that define us.

In my eyes that’s what this time of year should be about. Not about how you’re going to have a rippling 6 pack or a fat bank account. But about reflection. Looking deeply at both how you have lived up the values you say you hold dear and in what ways you have failed. And then from there, looking to course correct. Using the valuable lessons of the past year to steer your ship.

Goals are then meant to be an expression of those values. Of who are at your core. The version of yourself that makes you feel whole. That makes you feel integral. They should change throughout your lifetime as you evolve. They should move depending on your unique life circumstances.

Goals are, at the end of the day, simply something to shoot at. The results of which matters far less than the process – than the the actions that you take everyday. That define you as a person. That are based on an increasingly clear set of values or overarching principles that have strengthened over time. That help to keep your head above the water when all else fails. When shit hits the fan and all you’re left with is a fat waistline and zero dollars in the bank (thanks again 2020).

But here’s the trick that nobody taught you. The moment you tell yourself in absolute terms you have to do something, you’re going to resent doing it. You’re going to hate it. A bit like telling yourself you can’t have sex until you get married – you’re going to be thinking about it your whole life until you do. Not only are going to hate doing or not doing that thing, you will become tied to it. Your self worth will become entirely dependent on whether or not you stick to that resolution or achieve that goal. And if you fail, well, you’ll probably feel like jamming a pen in your eye.

The truth is you don’t have to do anything. With the exception of breathing, sleeping and eating, you don’t have to do shit (ok you have to do that as well but you get the point). Nor should you think in those terms. It’s like Troy said in his previous post. The language you use matters. You don’t have to write in a gratitude journal. You get to. You don’t have to be part of saving the planet for our children. You get to be. You don’t have to eat your vegetables or go for a run at 5am (you definitely don’t have to do that). You get to live a healthy lifestyle.

So what’s the only new year’s resolution you’ll ever need to make. Simple. Don’t have one. That way the habits you want to form might actually stick. That way they won’t matter so much if they don’t. After all tomorrow is another day. Tomorrow, thankfully, is another year.


Thanks for reading everyone! As always I’m curious to get your thoughts on resolutions. Should we even have them? Are specific measurable goals the way to go? What about being clear about our values? As always I welcome ALL thoughts and opinions. Let me finish by saying it’s been an absolute pleasure connecting with all of you on PO this year. To each and every one of you – for lifting me up, for making me think, for challenging me, for making me laugh, for everything – thank you! I wish you all a very happy New Years indeed.

***

If you’d like to read some more of AP2’s nonsensical world views and exceptionally poor self-help advice be sure to check out his blog at: https://clear-air-turbulence.com


32 thoughts on “The Only New Year’s Resolution You’ll Ever Need

    1. That’s a good point. I think making goals needs to be done with a clear head. Facing our current reality is much more important than planning for a better future. It starts with now. Thanks for sharing your thoughts 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Agree that New Year’s Resolutions are basically useless or counterproductive.

    Studies have shown that approximately 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail and many of people over the years have written about new approaches needed to achieving our big goals and resolutions, including naming them differently, approaching them differently and viewing them differently.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting – although 80% doesn’t surprise me. We place an inordinate amount of hope on resolutions and the outcome of goals. Yet we don’t spend nearly enough time practicing gratitude for what we have and appreciating what we’ve already achieved. We will always have issues if we don’t learn to first accept what is before moving on to make things better.

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. Wishing you a very happy new year 🥳 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I like the idea of shifting the language of self-talk. A course I took years ago about becoming a better student taught us to “love our problems” to defeat fear of certain subjects, in my case math. It worked! Sounds a bit self-deluding, but you can trick the brain to a degree simply by changing language you use.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I think it sounds great – “loving our problems” is genius. My feeling – part of the problem we have today – is everyone is living in fear of the future. But we won’t rise to the challenges we need to if we don’t embrace that future. Of course will all have to change for it but far better to love and even enjoy those changes when they comes than trying to resist. Thinking that we get to change for the better instead of having to change has evening to do with that. We get to protect others by wearing masks. We get to be part of a United global effort to fight this pandemic and climate change. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Wishing you a happy end to the year and an infinitely brighter 2021 🙏

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I tend to think January is a bad time to set goals. In my experience you just need to get on and build some momentum to start achieving a goal, and in the Northern Hemisphere it’s generally the darkest, dampest and most miserable month – not overly conducive to hitting the ground running. I like to set goals around Easter instead.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s an interesting point you bring up. I read recently that suicide rates actually spike in the spring – not the winter like many believe. I wonder if that might be an antidote of sorts. Starting the year – at least mentally speaking – in the spring. I like to use this time of the year to reflect rather than set outlandish goals. I often review and tweek my longer term goals in the summer (not dissimilar) Thanks for your comment and making me think 🤔. Happy new year 🙏

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Love this AP! I’ve always felt it was a bit hypocritical to all of a sudden “today” is going to be different than any other day this past year…”Today I’m finally going to get it together.” To me, it’s seems disingenuous and unrealistic. Rather, I’ve found it helpful these past couple years to actively write or list some things I’m grateful for that happened that day. I’m looking forward to doing more of this in 2021, and as a butterfly effect, things will start to fall into place. Thanks for this reminder to not be too hard on myself 🙂 Cheers to 2021!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Ellen! Indeed – I believe the exercise makes us feel better for a while – but are often overly ambitious/too vague. Of course if (when) we fall short we end up feeling worse about ourselves. Setting daily goals and to-do lists/course correcting as the year progresses works best for me. Above all – dealing with life as it stands today – and definitely agree with you about having a gratitude journal. Has made a big difference to my well-being. Cheers to 2021 indeed 🙏😊

      Like

  5. Hey there, and Happy New Year! I get to make derpy comments on your lovely posts; who could ask for more? 🙂 Liked the post, and of course I want to throw in a drachma or two, mostly because I’ve just had too much chocolate and anything could happen.
    Resolutions have their root in in ‘resolve’ which is to ‘finish with something’, so it makes sense to me to use them to take stock of the previous year’s accomplishments. Sometimes just getting out of bed is an accomplishment, and deserves to be noted. So, I like to approach the new year like I’m planting a garden, to be used as a sort of seasonal 12 month map of uncertain expectations. I always plant potatoes though, either real or metaphoric ones. You can never go wrong with potatoes. Metaphorical potatoes to me, are things like paying rent, keeping warm in Winter, Spring and Autumn, and having the real kinds of potatoes on-hand.
    I like to look back and see if I grew in any way during the year, and the answer is usually yes, because it’s really hard to be alive and not grow in some way. I think most of us grew immensely this year, in patience, spiritually, in finding out more about ourselves than we could have known without all this lovely Time for self-reflection. This year has also been eye-opening in they way we all view each other, and the strange notions we’ve developed over the years; assumptions of each others values. It’s been a kind of winnowing.
    As for a six-pack? Puhleeeze. Honey, I have discarded the six-pack and gone full keg, complete with Clydesdale butt! It’s Ok, I love Clydesdales… and chocolate.
    Cheers to 2021!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love your comments! They’re not derby in the slightest. I love the planting of potatoes analogy. I agree – this is why, I think, when we don’t live up-to our own expectations they can hurt so much. Because we haven’t been spending enough time appreciating all the small wins. The daily actions and triumphs. That’s life! It’s just as important to celebrate those as the bigger win – maybe even more.
      Also, did you say chocolate? I think my New Years goals can wait another day (or year). No-one is going to see me at the beach anytime soon.
      And cheers to 2021 indeed! I look forward to more of your insightful comments on my future derby posts then 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  6. “Nothing changes on New Year’s day.” – Bono, U2

    IMHO, waiting for a holiday to start doing something you need to be doing right now is just kicking the can down the road. Procrastination. Perhaps one is hoping it will eventually get lost in the bushes.

    Nobody waits until New Year to vow to do the things they really want to do. They are already doing the things they judge most important..

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Good quote and excellent point. I believe procrastination is about avoiding feelings we don’t want to acknowledge – that certain tasks make us feel. We often write out our to-do lists and feel much better about life. Which is all well and good but not if we then proceed to avoid the things we really should be doing. Our actions say much more about our prioritises than our resolutions – or any list for that matter. Thanks for adding your insights. Hope you had a wonderful New Years 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I think of New Years resolutions like Valentines Day dates: why do we focus on only one day?

    Personal goals can and will change throughout the year, so it benefits us to evaluate and alter them more than once every 365 days. When we are in a committed relationship with someone, we have committed to showing them we love them all year round, not just on the 14th of February. (I have not been in a relationship long enough to speak from experience, but I hope when I am I will show and tell them how much I care every day.)

    I love the way you say to focus on building habits, to help us live a healthy life. These are not obligations but choices we *get* to make. Choose kindness friends.

    Keep on keeping on being awesome AP, and I’ll keep sharing the encouragement you give me with others. Peace.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheers Hamish. I agree. Goals are simply something to shoot towards. Something that gets us taking steps in the right direction. Focusing and loving the process is more important than the result.

      And thank you for always taking the time to read my words and leave such thoughtful responses. I really do appreciate your support.

      Peace to you brother 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

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