Why I’m not making any New Year’s resolutions this year
I love making plans, writing lists and thinking through and identifying goals. So New Year usually brings a whole new dimension of excitement for me, it’s the one time of the year that my incessant goal setting and planning is a socially acceptable topic of conversation, I’m in my element.
But this year I’m challenging this status quo. I’m purposefully not making any New Year’s resolutions. Well actually, beyond that I’m not making any plans for 2016. I’m not setting any goals or targets, I’m just going to see what happens.
Don’t get me wrong, I still expect to be doing a lot. I’m just not going to define or plan this beyond the immediate few days or week. I’m not going to decide today what I’m going to achieve by December, or July or April or any time.
This goes against every fibre of my being, so why am I doing this? I have a few reasons.
Firstly. In my experience, having a never-ending list of things to do means that I regularly put pressure on myself to be doing something productive with my time. This means I can sometimes struggle to chill out as I’m distracted by anticipating this self-imposed list of things to achieve and I then feel guilt about not going what I ‘should’ be doing. So I feel an element of anxiety in that moment, which actually shouldn’t be stressful at all, because the activity I’m anticipating is days, weeks, even months away… right? So why should I worry about it now?
Then there’s the often under acknowledged fact that we actually don’t know what our future selves want to do with their time. I have no idea what I will want to be doing in my spare time in 6 months, let alone 12. I’ll let future me decide what to do and if I want to learn how to roller blade in the Summer or play the piano, I will, but I don’t need to think about that today. I’ll do it when I want to do it. If I do, which I might not. So I’m not going to put pressure on myself to ‘achieve’ it right now.
Finally. Well. I’m curious. I’ve being planning the future and anticipating goals my whole life. But instead, I want to find out how it feels not to expect and second guess and try to dictate the future, but be more spontaneous, see what happens by responding to my current emotions, flight of fancy. Today I may want to read a classic novel, while another day I may want to delve into the biological intricacies of what actually happens when you eat protein. Either way it doesn’t matter, I will enjoy that moment so much more when it’s not linked to a pre-determined goal where I feel obliged to do it. It’s so much less fun to play the piano because you said you’d learn 10 chords by Christmas, rather than just having a go when opportunity and mood strikes.
I always look forward to starting a New Year because I have laid out a plan with pre-assigned fun goals ahead, but I’m actually more excited this year because I know that every day I will be doing what I want to do that day. But this time, there’s no agenda. No expectations. I will be doing something, because in that moment I want to, not because I decided I would 6 months ago and now feel like I really should.
Am I going to miss the satisfaction of achieving and ticking something off my list? I’m not sure. Maybe. But I suspect that removing the guilt for ‘not doing what I should be’ or ‘something productive’ and being more present in the current moment might mean I feel a bit different this year, which I suspect may be far more satisfying.