Let me preface this with the fact that I personally know how tough 2020 has been. I, too, long for it to be over, for things to get back to normal, and for bad shit to stop happening. 2020 has been rough, but here’s the thing...as much as we long for a reset, a new day, a new dawn and a fresh year, shit is still going to be nearly identical on 12:01a on Friday, January 1st 2021 as it was at 11:59p on Thursday, December 31st. The world will still be battling a deadly pandemic, things will still be shut down, systemic racism will still exist and shit will still be really freaking hard. The New Year is a mindset that we, as a culture, have come to believe brings dramatic changes, new resolutions and more goals that we can suddenly achieve. I’ve always despised New Year’s Eve and all of the pressure it brought with it to do something extra special along with declaring sweeping changes that – scientific evidence proves – don’t last much past the end of the month. I still struggle with that inherent conflict of "shouldn't I be doing something grand tonight?"
In reality, we already KNOW what is going to happen. If ever there were a time where we could predict the future, it’s now! We KNOW that big changes mean lots of work, and for some reason we think that January 1 is the time to do it, when any day we have the opportunity to make any change we want. January 1 is veiled with the hypnotic magic that somehow this will be different. At the risk of sounding extremely nihilistic, it really, truly, won’t.
As part of my shift in debunking diet culture that I’ve lived in for 6+ years and openly accepting my body (it’s a work in progress) as well as its hunger cues and my desires for food, I came upon a podcast that I listened to for the first time yesterday. It’s called “The FuckIt Diet” by Caroline Dooner. She has a book of the same name. In this particular episode surrounding New year’s resolutions, she speaks with an expert (coincidentally enough, from “Unfuck your Brain”) about the vicious cycle that are resolutions and how they play into basically making us feel more worthless than media and the world already does. They dove into how the diet and food industry is just chomping at the bit to start sending us the messages of “new you,” “drop that quarantine weight in the new year” and “Be a better you!” It’s like the nightmare we have as a kid that a monster is waiting for us in the closet just as soon as our parents turn the lights out.
When it comes to grand gestures declared on the eve of a new 2021, be careful. Experts from this podcast noted how the BEST actual changes are those that we find the most mundane. They’re the ones that aren’t really “Instagram worthy” nor are they much to talk about when comparing notes with all your friends who joined the latest gym challenge or “shred.”
Here’s an example – say you declare that you’re going to start doing yoga 5x a week, and meditation along with it. I mean, those people that practice yoga are just SO in tune with their bodies and lithe beautiful earth fairies right? That could SO be you! All you need to do is commit this time. It’s self-care, it’s FOR YOU and you deserve it after the rough year that 2020 has been. This will be the ultimate solution. So you start, and it’s fucking hard. Because those lithe little earth fairies likely didn’t get there after day one. So you try again, and by the end of the –insert amount of time here less than 4 weeks—you’re not feeling fairylike. You’re frustrated and after the first few posts you did on Instagram, you’re not even really sure it’s worth it. And, all you really want is a fucking cookie because along with yoga you decided to start clean eating too.
Here’s an alternative – the less pretty, less filtered, less poetic version. You “resolve” to take 2 walks each week of 10 minutes. Wow, if that isn’t boring as fuck. But, it’s doable. And you will be hard pressed to find an excuse NOT to do something that mundane right? If you keep at it, as you’re likely to do, you’ll accumulate over 1000 minutes of walking by the end of the year. Bonus - not that it’s necessary or required – you’re more likely to OVER-achieve at this goal vs. falling short within a few weeks. So maybe you add a few more mundane tasks to the list. Get more rest, drink more water, make the bed every day. These are things that are easy, and yet we are so afraid to sit in the space of easy. We’re so programmed to do, go, be, and RUN to the next goalpost that we’re in the midst of missing out on our lives in an attempt to be like the next person.
Because here's the thing...if you really, truly wanted to dedicate your spare time to being a yogi, mastering weight lifting, or meditating and journaling every morning...you probably would have at some point in the last 12 months. Simply getting a "January 1" doesn't magically make you more motivated to do it. Or, it might, for about a week or two.
I'm not here to tell you that you shouldn't have goals. Most successful people do. Just know that you are in control of your goals, your path, your journey at every step of the way...as is everyone else on this planet. We all have our own boats to row, and our own demons to conquer. A new year doesn't make it necessary. A new year does not need to mean a better you, a skinnier you, a more yoga-esque you. The people in your lives - especially the ones still here after this shit show of a year - are likely the ones you should keep close at hand and hang on to.
Give yourself and those in your tribe some credit for SURVIVING one hell of a ride, and give YOU some grace for existing during something that will likely go down in the history books. But also give some understanding to the fact that tomorrow, it may not be a lot different than today.