I’ve always resented New Year’s resolutions. Not because I’m against personal growth and goal setting (I’m all about self-care and self-reflection), but because they’re too short-sighted. An insubstantial oversimplification.
In fact, part of their widely-acknowledged connotation is their fallibility – that they sustain some minor adjustments for the first few weeks of January before we all settle back into our habits. So, with each trip around the sun, society as a whole seems to revisit this flimsy concept of reinvention that we’ve already subconsciously accepted to be faulty in the long haul. See the problem?!
In hopes of sidestepping the resolution paradox, I purport that a new angle is desired as we stare down the next 12 months. It’s time to try a different, more realistic approach. Therefore, I’ve compiled an approachable five-point, resolution-less guide, to keep you inspired through the inevitable ups and downs of life and attuned to your individual needs.
“Nought may endure but mutability”
One of the main reasons why New Year’s resolutions are particularly unsound is that they don’t pay attention to the process. Since we can’t all reinvent ourselves overnight, but face a more complicated and intricate journey of learning, growing, shifting, and regressing, on a day-to-day basis, any resolution-esque outlook has to account for the constant change that is the human experience.
In the words of my favorite radical Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, “nought may endure but mutability.” In other terms, the only thing we can count on each new year is change. Consequently, coming to grips with the highs and lows of life is point number one on our list. Through which, we can become more accepting of the journey, the imperfect process, to whatever goals we may have.
Furthermore, when we let go of the idea of life simply being a matter of moving from point A to point B, we become more forgiving of ourselves when unforeseen circumstances and setbacks push us off our desired course. This “mutability” sentiment is also an assurance that we’re never truly stuck or stagnated but constantly evolving.
A Commonplace Book
The promise of change brings us to our second point, which is a great way to choose inspiration along each step of your journey that is both simple and enriching to do. Unlike the task of journaling, a commonplace book serves as a treasure trove for anything and everything you find meaningful. It’s a time-honored practice utilized by many great writers and thinkers throughout history (ex. Marcus Aurelius, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Virginia Woolf, among others).
Expressly, a commonplace book allows you to catalog quotes and lyrics, movies and tv shows, art, and anything in between (bus passes, tickets, pieces of conversation) into one open-ended personal artifact. It’s a type of journal perfect not only for remaining inspired by the world around you but when reflecting on the passage of time. When flipping through your commonplace book, your inspirations become committed to memory, and you can honor each version of yourself that the New Year brings.
A Change of Scenery
The popular phrase “new year, new me,” often stems from a general desire for broadening your horizons. It’s particularly alluring a concept when we feel like we’re trapped in monotony or heavy emotions. For those who can’t drop everything and take a spontaneous vacation overseas, it can still help immensely to seek out a change of scenery – even for just a small fraction of your day.
For us readers, this can definitely entail seeking out a new spot to tackle a chapter or two. Whether that’s in a park or cafe or in your own backyard, a subtle shift in scenery should not be underestimated. Not only can it help lift us out of dejected spirits, but it also fuels inspiration. Taking in the world around you, especially a place you don’t frequent often, is bound to stir up your creativity in a meaningful way.
Accommodation is the Name of the Game
If you’re wary of making resolutions each year (like me), it may be because committing to a concrete future goal can feel very overwhelming and unpredictable. Many common resolutions about health or wellness are often well-intentioned but ultimately too rigid to take root in daily life. This leads me to point number four: accommodation. If we wish to reflect and make lasting adjustments in some arena of our lives, we have to be accepting of the idea of accommodation.
Now, don’t get me wrong, this is much easier said than done. The tendency to look at change as an all-or-nothing thing is very pervasive. So much so that when we feel like we can’t keep in step with our resolutions, it may shatter our self-confidence. In my own life, this has manifested in meeting myself where I am health-wise. Since I struggle with chronic illness, I have to make accommodations in my life for what I can handle physically. Rather than beat myself up about it and feel inadequate, I’m starting to see that as a productive means to grow. In other words, accommodation does not mean limitation.
For the final point on this short New Year’s guide, I’m going to get a little metaphysical. Specifically, by addressing how we can choose inspiration even when we’re not awake. Giving the thinking mind a break is super important, and even while resting, we can tap into creativity, freedom, and self-empowerment.
Before you roll your eyes and say oh brother, here comes the meditation speech, hear me out. I’m as cynical about wellness clichés as anyone, but prioritizing your sleep and dreams is an incredible way to stay both energized and inspired. If meditation is your jam, great! (I’m an Insight Timer loyalist – all the other apps aren’t really free and don’t have as comprehensive an array of tracks to choose from). Whatever your nighttime ritual looks like, a restorative escape for your mind is perhaps the most important piece of the puzzle when tackling 2023. It’s wholly empowering to recognize the power and freedom of your mind as a reader, writer, creative, and human being.
On that note, I wish you all a joyful 2023 of self-love and growth, in which you feel more inspired and at peace with cycles of change. Happy New Year!
For more self-care and wellness inspiration, click here.