There’s no better time than January to get on that “new year, new you” grind. Some people even start creating their New Year’s resolutions as early as December. As they say, preparation is the key to win any battle, and changing oneself might just be the hardest of them all.
People tackle their resolutions in different ways: some list them down in their bullet journals, while others tweet them out to the world for accountability. Whether it be living a healthier life or arriving to class on time for the rest of the year, it always helps seeing your goals listed down and sometimes, posted on Instagram. But this doesn’t go without implications. Once that gym selfie is out in the world, there’s a higher chance that people will expect you to work out every other day. Your food photos might even get a whole new level of judgement from your friends (a.k.a. health buddies) if you accidentally post a picture of your afternoon donut.
While creating lists and being held accountable are often considered as the keys to achieving your goals, they also leave unnecessary pressure to perform. Remember: these resolutions are for your growth, not to prove a point. Just like anything, effective change takes time. Nothing and no one can absolutely and completely change in an instant.
Just like anything, effective change takes time. Nothing and no one can absolutely and completely change in an instant.
As a true blue Virgo, I already have a self-imposed pressure to make a list, check it twice, and make sure all the boxes are ticked. With the kind of discipline I put on myself, I didn’t need anyone else to add to that. In previous years, I was so focused on accomplishing things in my New Year’s resolutions list that I forgot what it’s really for. Since 2010, I have made it a goal to watch 100 movies every year in my attempt to expose myself to more stories and good visuals. In my third year, I found myself struggling to keep up with the resolution that I just settled for mediocre movie franchises (i.e. Wrong Turn 1-3, Mean Girls 2, and the countless Bring It On movies) just to complete it. Sure, it helped me finish the list but it didn’t benefit me in the long run.
That was when my previous conversation with a friend popped in my head. A girl boss in her own right, she thought of a way for real change to happen. She told me to think of a theme that I could live by the following year.
I can still remember that time: I was fresh out of college and completely lost and unsure of what I wanted to do. I was a 19-year-old business graduate with made-up work experience. I needed help in organizing my future actions, so, obviously, I chose “Structure” as my theme. (Yeah, yeah. Virgo stereotypes.)
The rest of that year was still spent a.) jumping from one freelance job to another, b.) struggling to keep up with my annual projects (like watching 100 movies a year) and, c.) muttering my annual theme under my breath when things got out of hand. But it was easier for me to dive back into working on myself because my reminder was short and concise. Whenever I was presented tough decisions, I always asked the question “Will this benefit my theme this year?” instead of “Will this tick off anything in my resolutions list?” And the outcome almost always lead me to what I wanted.
Real change won’t happen in a year, so don’t pressure yourself in being a new you just because it’s the new year.
By the end of that year, I achieved the structure I was looking for (i.e. a stable job, a daily habit) but it wasn’t flawless. There were still some areas in my life that needed work — like being better at the skills required for my job, and living a healthier lifestyle. Instead of sulking over the things that I haven’t accomplished, I celebrated the changes that I made over the past year. After all, there’s always room for improvement. The year after that, I decided that “Strengthen” would be my theme, and I did just that. I went on Skillshare and watched a few videos on Photoshopping and Final Cut, and now I can confidently say that I have come far since my deviantArt photomanipulation days.
Just like anything, this method isn’t for everyone. Maybe you’re one of those who prefer having someone nag them 24/7 about their tardy habits to effectively change. And that’s fine. Stick to your preferred method, but in case you feel burned out, a theme will always be ready for you so long as you need it (how Harry Potter).
For this year, I chose “Slow.” After the year keeping up with the headlines last year, I want to live slow and really take time to be an actual person this year. Being a better person is not a race. Real change won’t happen in a year, so don’t pressure yourself in being a new you just because it’s the new year. You’re the main character of your life and it’s up to you to dictate the character development that you want to see. 2017 is not a deadline you have to catch.