Whenever I start to hear Christmas tunes blasting on the radio, and red and green items littering the aisles of every store from my local CVS to the hoopla that Macys in Herald Square rolls out, I say something to myself that is a little bit scary and a little bit eye opening:
“Jen,” I begin, slowly. “You didn’t accomplish half the things you wanted to this year.”
Time flies when you’re having fun, or procrastinating taking care of your to-do list, or simply just feeling too lazy to follow any of those resolutions you set for yourself as the ball was dropping and the countdown was beginning for a new year.
When I’d admit that to people at holiday parties or winter brunches, they’d try to knock some end of the year wisdom into me:
“Jen,” they’d say, slowly. “It’s okay. A new year means a new you.”
“It does!” I’d say back, triumphantly, before then pulling out a sheet of notebook paper and writing down all of the things I wanted to change or do differently in 2018. “Less carbs! More me time! Less Netflix and Chill! More time with friends!”
I’d hold onto that list tightly as I danced my way into day one of a new year, just to find myself double-fisting bagels and cake, binge watching Orange is the New Black, and telling my friends If they wanted to hang out, there was an opening on my couch for them.
Making and breaking New Year Resolutions has become somewhat of a tradition for me. Perhaps the only one I’ve ever kept was to not take life so seriously, which I try to remember when December rolls around and the guilt sets in about what I’ve accomplished and what I’ve worked double time to ignore, mostly out of fear.
Yet this January, as I begin to recall my list of New Year Resolutions, I’m starting to see that the ones I’ve broken have been ones I’m happy I didn’t keep.
Here’s my list of resolutions that I’m glad I didn’t implement into my life:
1. Eat Healthy
The problem with a resolution over your eating habits is that unless it comes along with a detailed game plan, a personal chef, or an easy-to-follow cookbook, it’s unlikely you’ll stick to it.
One of my most repetitive resolutions is around eating healthier. I’m a life-long vegetarian who really only eats pizza and pasta. Incorporating more vegetables and fruit into my diet seems like a good idea, but then on January 1st, I’m convincing myself that the tomato sauce on the pizza counts for all of my nutritional needs.
I’m glad this is a resolution I’ve never followed through on because I never knew what it actually meant. Should I buy foods that have a fat free title on their box? Should I eat all protein and no carbs?
Perhaps if I did try to eat healthy, I’d just eat salad or apples all year. Instead, I’ve found myself at multiple points during the year reading nutrition blogs and buying cookbooks that help me prepare meals in under 10 minutes that aren’t bread heavy.
2. Find A Work/Life Balance
I became my own boss in 2015, after I was laid off from my full-time gig as a copywriter at a tech start-up. After I packed up the contents of my desk and handed over my company-issued laptop, I told myself, as the door hit me on the butt, that I’d try my hardest to make being my own boss work.
What came after was a series of at-home workdays that lasted over 16 hours and oftentimes carried over into weekends, where I’d have to report to my squad that they should head to the clubs without me.
When 2016 came around, I vowed that my resolution would be to figure out a work/life balance so that I didn’t waste away my twenties behind a laptop, alone. That never happened. I always put my work over my friends, my dates, and even over summer travel plans.
By doing the opposite of what I had planned on doing, I realized that there is no such thing as a work/life balance. It’s an incorrect way to plan out your life. There will always be moments when your work has to come first and then there will be moments where your life comes first. Planning an even balance between the two just isn’t realistic. So instead, whenever I wanted to see my friends or go out with them, I figured out a way to wake up earlier or stay up later another night to get work done, learning that there are enough hours in the day for everything you want to do, but you just might not get much sleep.
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3. Try to Forgive And Forget
I’m one of the most stubborn people you will ever meet, which means that if we get into a fight, I will inevitably forgive you, but I might not forget about it. I’m infamous for hanging onto grudges, even ones that I should have forgotten about years ago.
At the end of 2016, I wanted to resolve to forgive and forget more. To kick this off, I wanted to reach out to all the people I had tiffs with and put an end to them. Except when I went to do that, I found myself feeling like I was forcing myself to apologize to people who'd deeply hurt me that I didn’t want back into my life.
Instead of spending the year forgiving and forgetting, I found myself communicating better with the people who had wronged me, letting them know immediately what I was upset about and offering up a way to resolve the issue with them, rather than drag it on. I did less forgetting and more of negotiating and problem solving, and for that, more relationships were repaired.
4. Follow A Strict Budget
I’m not the best with money. I don’t have a 401K, or any retirement plan for that matter, and my savings account could be a lot thicker if I didn’t spend so much cash on eating out, online shopping, or plane tickets to escape the NYC winter I pay so much money to live in.
Last year, I went through the motions of putting together a strict budget for 2018, carving out just how much of an allowance I’d give myself every month for fun things, like brunches and new dresses. What I learned the first month of this year was that allowance didn’t last past week one. It was unrealistic. Tight budgets don’t work because they don’t teach you how to save — instead they piss you off, and then you spend more. Instead of following that carefully crafted budget, I decided to start jotting down my spending. Every time I swiped my credit card, I added that purchase to a list. Having to go through the motion of writing down the things I was buying and seeing how pointless some of it was allowed me to think twice before reaching in my purse for the plastic.