Are resolutions really necessary this year?

by maddie millington-drake ~

This year I didn’t want to make any New Year resolutions. But the inevitable rolled around and on New Year’s Eve my brother asked what mine were. I made it up on the spot:

  1. To write more columns (which granted is quite a good one)
  2. Carry on with yoga (I have completed one 30 days of yoga with Adrienne and it probably took 45 days)

For 2020 one of my resolutions was to ‘not make plans on a Monday and Tuesday’ so I wouldn’t get to a Sunday morning and resent myself for having had such a busy week. Well, I stuck to it, before having my wish granted and not thinking once in 2020 ‘wow I wish I hadn’t made plans every night’.

It’s probably the first year I have truly stuck to a resolution, albeit for the worst of reasons.

Usually, I don’t feel negatively towards resolutions – I feel they do give us something to work towards especially in the early months of the year which can often be a little bleak. And personally I only ever really think about my resolutions for the first few months and then don’t give them a second thought.

But this year I feel they could be counterproductive. 2020 brought around something that we usually don’t have – time. Time to achieve. Time to learn a new skill, time to do what we always said we were going to do. It also brought talk of self-improvement and side hustles. It brought creativity that was inspiring to watch, and it showed people’s ability to adapt and harness the situation we found ourselves in in such brilliant ways.

But, if your creative juices weren’t flowing, and you didn’t create a side hustle or even have a main hustle you slightly felt like you’d failed. That you had wasted a rare opportunity. It suddenly felt competitive, how well you’d ‘done’ lockdown. The question ‘so what did you do in lockdown 1.0, 2.0, 3.0?’, filled me with dread.

Magazines and social media were full of articles and posts about how to achieve in 2020, but actually for so many of us lockdown wasn’t that productive: I didn’t learn any new skills, I didn’t learn Spanish (which I had told myself I would) and I made one sourdough before admitting defeat and using it as a ball because it was so dense. I did read a lot, cook a lot, and did ‘a big sort out’ but none of this feels like self-improvement. No one really talked about feeling bored?! As if being bored meant that you were admitting you weren’t being productive.

I have just read an article on Fast Company called ‘7 alternatives to setting resolutions for 2021’, but the list sounds very like resolutions such as ‘begin a journaling practice’ (resolution?); ‘choose one new skill for the year’ (I’m thinking resolution?) and ‘commit to a 3-minute a day mindfulness practice’ (surely a resolution?).

I am not against self-betterment or resolutions but I feel like we haven’t discussed enough that it is okay to feel overwhelmed by this year; to actually just want to go back to the office and do your 9-5 without the stress of the pandemic looming; for not wanting to “diversify” your income streams because you find comfort in a steady job. Personally, I find that thought stressful.

As for my 2021 resolutions – the yoga one is at most feeble. I enjoy the occasional yoga session but I don’t burn to do it. I don’t crave how I feel afterwards but perhaps if I do continue with it I will learn to want to adopt it into my everyday. And to write more columns is likely to give me the kick I need but I’m not sure it is any change to how I felt in 2020.

Maybe I am still just annoyed that I didn’t let myself see people at the beginning of last year for the sake of my resolution and so am projecting negative feelings onto 2021 New Year resolutions. But also I think if any year is the year to tell ourselves that it’s okay if you still can’t make banana bread, or that it’s okay to have tried meditation but decided it’s not for you, then 2021 should be it.