Why I stopped making New Year’s Resolutions

     It’s that time of year again. The beginning. We made it through 2020! As we all raise a glass (of whatever beverage you prefer) to ring in the New Year, there is one thing on many people’s minds: a resolution.  What are they going to achieve this year? Getting in shape? Pick up a new skill? But not me, not anymore, I am done with New Year’s Resolutions. 

     I used to think long and hard about a resolution, what could I change about myself? What could I do this year that I haven’t done in previous years? I will admit now that I have never succeeded on a New Year’s Resolution to my knowledge, most of the time I don’t even remember my resolution come March or April.  And as for the ones I do remember? I am filled with unnecessary guilt at having not completed them or unnecessary pressure to complete them.

     When you think about it, a resolution is just a goal that starts and ends on a specific day. But, I’m sure you may have guessed it, I don’t do goals either, at least not in the long-term. It’s about the process, and keeping things from stressing me out or making me feel guilty.  Taking care of my mental health means doing what I can on any given day and keeping deadlines to loose guidelines wherever possible. 

    But it’s not just mental stress that prevents me from setting long-term goals. It’s that completing a goal doesn’t feel good. Or it doesn’t feel as good as I think it will. This is due to something called the arrival fallacy.

     The arrival fallacy is the illusion that when we get to a certain place or achieve a certain goal that we will feel happy or fulfilled.  In fact the opposite is often true, when doing work or training to complete a goal, our mind is already winning that race, or getting a good result back. Our brain has already unconsciously achieved the goal and the rest of us is still pursuing it. Upon completing a goal we often feel a sense of nothing or “What, now?” Such as Rapunzel does in Tangled right before seeing the lights. What if it’s all she ever dreamed of, then what? 

    But life isn’t as simple as a fairy tale and the process of making, completing and coming up with goals is more complex and doesn’t follow a standard narrative path by any means.  When we finish a goal, our story doesn’t end, so why not just enjoy the process and do little things wherever you can without forcing a  major deadline on yourself?

     With all that being said, this New Year I will be continuing to learn new skills and improve myself where I can.  Without the pressure of New Year’s Resolution.