With an anecdotal insight, returning volunteer writer Leah Langley, takes us through the what ‘the new year’s resolution’ really means; what conditioned us to make these once-every-365-days promises?

New Year’s Resolutions are a tradition that dates back centuries and they are a concept in which: “a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behaviour to accomplish a personal goal or otherwise improve their life”. Although they have been around for many centuries, their value has come under scrutiny in more recent years. Some people still value their importance, setting themselves a list of resolutions to try and achieve by the end of the year, whilst others are now opting for more “meaningful” practices.

There is no denying that a rigid set of resolutions can prove effective in motivating people to make changes and gain the results that they desire. Holding yourself accountable to self-made standards can often champion people to make some of the greatest changes in their lives; completely transforming the way that they navigate the world. However, it’s impossible to ignore the darker side of this tradition. If it reaches the end of the year and you haven’t ticked every box on your list, then it can become extremely disheartening and can even lead some people to think that they have wasted a whole year. Often, this isn’t actually the case, though. If you haven’t had the time to work on crossing those items off of your list, then it is highly likely that you have achieved so much more outside of those few bullet points. Just because some changes were not anticipated or put in writing, does not mean that they should be undervalued. Although the notion behind resolutions isn’t necessarily harmful, it is clear to see where the issues may arise.

I have no harsh words for those who decide to make resolutions with the hopes of bettering themselves, but personally, I have found that setting such resolutions does not work for me. I despise the idea of having my whole year set out in stone and spending so much of my time worrying about adding more ticks to the boxes. This doesn’t mean that I don’t want to better myself, though. I am far from perfect and there are always things that I want to strive for. For me, I have found that I value a more reflective exercise at the end of the year. I like to ask myself; “What has this year taught you?” and “What are you going to do differently next year?”. Two rather loaded questions that always gain a variety of answers, but they’ve enabled me to learn so many things. I took the time to sit with the lesson of misplaced trust, of healing, and of hope. I’ve contemplated the meaning of others’ actions, of my own actions, and the purpose of words. I’ve mused over relationships, over friendships, and over acquaintanceships. I’ve connected with my soul and helped it process the feelings of the year that it has endured. It’s a hard task, but a worthy one.

Then comes the changes for the following year. I’ve thought hard about the intention I want my words, and actions, to hold. I’ve re-evaluated the meaning of relationships I have, and the ones I hope to develop. I’ve dreamed bigger than ever before. I have voiced my hopes aloud so that they become more tangible. I’ve promised to be the truest possible version of myself. And so, whilst rigid resolutions don’t play a part in my life, I find meaning in the yearly repetition of these questions. They allow for a period of reflection on what the year has held, and they prompt my intentions for the year ahead. It’s a nice way to tie off one year and begin another with renewed purpose and meaning.

Header by Christos Alamaniotis. 


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