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New year, no need for a new you

It’s that time of year again where we look forward to waving farewell to a rocky 2021 and anticipate a fresh start as 2022 is only around the corner. This will mean many of us will be celebrating the dawn of a new year in style with our nearest and dearest (COVID allowing, of course). Closing the door on 2021 will undoubtedly prompt a surge of aesthetic Instagram reels and TikToks urging us to create a long and often overly ambitious list of New Year’s resolutions. We are all for having a goal and working hard to see this goal come into fruition. However, if you find yourself feeling a sense of inadequacy or like you can’t quite keep up with the weight of the expectation we feel to reinvent ourselves, you’re not alone. We can indulge in an Instagram scroll of meticulously cultivated grids and perfectly preened stories with the best of them, but spending time fixating on how you are going to leave the old and ‘worse’ version of yourself in 2021 can be unproductive and even oppressive. 

Often the New Year’s resolutions that we create can centre around how we look. As much as a healthy, balanced lifestyle is of the utmost importance and plays heavily into our self-esteem, this crucial idea of balance often goes out the window as we dream up the idyllic image of the new year. The advent of 2022 shouldn’t result in putting pressure on yourself to hit the gym six days a week or buy a whole new wardrobe. If you enter the new year looking exactly as you did this time last year, you haven’t failed. Not to mention, the last two years have been a rollercoaster, so give yourself a pat on the back for simply getting through it.

This school of thought also gives no credit to the life lessons you learned in 2021. Shedding the skin of your 2021 self in the pursuit of a new you leaves the experiences that have helped you to grow in the dust. Take pride in all you have accomplished and the obstacles you have overcome. 

This is not to say that you can’t have some goals in mind to work towards this year. Instead of feeling like you have to rise out of the ashes of your old life, try to focus on realistic goals which you will reap the rewards of, without feeling you need to radically alter yourself. This got us thinking about the kind of resolutions which will offer a sense of achievement without having to overhaul everything around you. 

  1. Factor time into your day for you – without succumbing to the glossy allure of the increasingly Capitalist institution that is the self-care industry, taking time for yourself is important! This doesn’t have to be investing a week’s wages into lots of lotions and potions or spending hours fastidiously studying a bullet journaling Tik Tok. Often the evening is the perfect time to simply set aside half an hour to unwind. Don’t let this become part of your day that you feel held hostage by, some nights you just want to sleep! But otherwise, a task such as allowing time to read a chapter of that book that’s been gathering dust on your bookshelf or listening to a bedtime meditation is a realistic goal which is a no-pressure addition to your day.
  2. Take time away from your phone – this is a common resolution but saying you are going to spend 10 minutes a day away from phone would be a considerable adjustment for those of the Gen Z variety like myself! Start by reducing the time you spend on your phone before bed. If you charge your phone overnight, charge it away from your bed so you’re not tempted to scroll into the early hours. 
  3. A balanced healthy lifestyle – saying you’re going to set an alarm for 5am, drink a green smoothie and go on a 5k run every morning for a year, when you’re used to getting up at 7am and grabbing a coffee before work probably isn’t a realistic goal. If exercising more or eating healthier is your goal introduce it into your lifestyle incrementally. Joining a gym or starting a new exercise class is great for physical fitness and mental health, but you don’t have to commit all at once! Adding a spin class to your schedule can release all the endorphins you need after a long week. In the same vein, don’t feel compelled to substitute all your favourite dinners for a juice or smoothie! Starting your day with a smoothie will tick that box without draining all the fun out of being a foodie! Similarly, ‘dry January’ is good in theory, but moderation is key to all resolutions.
  4. Have a good clear out – whether this is of your wardrobe or just the arbitrary items which have been scattered around your house all year, taking things you don’t use anymore to a charity shop can help you to enter the new year with a clearer mind and ca help others in need.

Ultimately, creating goals can be a great source of motivation. But the key takeaway is that this doesn’t have to involve a complete reinvention of yourself. Acknowledge what you have achieved this year and use this as fuel to not change yourself or strive towards an unrealistic ‘best life’, but work towards fulfilling and meaningful personal ambitions.

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