We need to talk about new year’s resolutions
It's that time of the year when you sit down with a pen and a paper to reflect on everything from the previous year you intend to either do right or make up for in the New Year. Like every other year, you have a list.
And we're here to talk about it.
What is a list of New Year's resolutions to you? Tasks to be completed? Goals to accomplish? The ultimate hack to becoming an improved version of yourself over a year?
You'll notice that you often forget to ask yourself this fundamental question before getting started on your list of resolutions. The popularity of this list has primarily been fuelled by people's success stories over the years. Chances are, you got inspired by other individuals who have managed to turn their lives around with the help of a carefully planned, well-thought-out list of resolutions for improving oneself.
According to a survey conducted by market research and data analytics firm YouGov, out of all the people who had prepared lists of goals for 2021, about 50 percent managed to fulfil a significant number of goals on their respective lists. Therefore, your list is a means to an end, nothing more.
You end up investing in such a list for the sake of investing in one, hoping that it'll prove to be a one-stop solution for all your problems, miraculously bringing about a speedy makeover for your life.
Twenty-two year old environmental science student Raya Rafia Choudhury doesn't believe in the necessity of having a list of resolutions for the beginning of a new year. She states that just one day of the year cannot work as a sustainable measure in the end for people working on improving themselves. The stress of coming up with a list of goals for one day at the beginning of a year can eventually render said list to be counterproductive.
Bushra Zaman, a fourth-year Pharmacy student, feels similarly as someone who prefers to set new goals for herself with every passing university semester throughout the year.
The guilt and subsequent frustration over being unable to fulfil all your New Year's goals ends up defeating the purpose of the list helping you with improving yourself. You bought into a fantasy without considering the complications of the real world, and can gradually become depressed the more you think about it.
Law student Tamjidul Hoque spoke about how the pandemic made it impossible for him to meet his new year's goals back in 2020.
"It was a reality check for me. I realised that while setting goals for yourself is a good thing, there's also the drawback of you going into a depressive state once you fail to accomplish the goals," he said.
This year, not everyone is particularly keen on preparing a list of New Year's resolutions, with most attributing the decision to the physical and emotional strain brought about by the pandemic.
In a study conducted by software firm Oracle and research firm Workplace Intelligence in October 2021, it was discovered that approximately 75 percent of 14,600 working individuals across 13 different countries felt that their lives were "on hold" for the duration of the pandemic, in terms of both personal and professional relationships.
Tamjidul also shared why he felt that the pandemic discouraged him from preparing a list of resolutions as well.
He said, "My resolutions for 2020 were to meet new people, go to new places, learn new skills, and test myself in a new environment. That's why I moved to Dhaka from Chattogram even though I could've easily majored in my field of choice from my hometown. I didn't realise at the time that a pandemic would force me into house arrest considering how well my first year at university was going. I was thus unable to accomplish any of the goals I'd set for myself that year."
How does one even go about preparing a list of resolutions amid such uncertainty and tension?
Here's the truth: There is no manual or a do-it-yourself guide for it. You begin by not pressuring yourself to set unrealistic goals that you might not be able to accomplish within a short span of time. If you're looking to work on yourself, be it on a personal level or a professional one, embrace baby steps that gradually lead to a state of improvement, instead of taking giant leaps for the sake of fast results that won't pay off in the long run. It's not that your goals end up being unrealistic half the time, it's just that you're too caught up in the rush of accomplishing something without taking into account the sustainability of the methods involved.
Amrin Tasnim Rafa, an A Level student, shared her thoughts on why she prefers to focus more on the process of accomplishing her goals rather than worrying about whether or not she was able to accomplish them.
"I choose to focus on how I can accomplish my goals as opposed to what I can accomplish. I feel like doing my own part, according to my own limitations, and not worrying about recognition, achievements, and outcomes will help me have a more fulfilling year. I feel like everyone's goals and resolutions ought to be more like 'make healthier eating choices as often as possible' rather than 'lose this much weight by the end of February'," Amrin explained.
The practice of setting a list of self-improvement goals for yourself isn't inherently problematic. But the added pressure of doing so and feeling a sense of guilt and frustration over the lack of accomplishments, and not considering the influence of external factors on your life can quickly subvert the healthy nature of the practice to a toxic one.
It doesn't matter when you decide to work on yourself or whether you're able to fulfil the resolutions you've listed. What matters is you sharing a healthy relationship with the list of goals and resolutions you've set for yourself.
You only live once; it's important to live well.