New Year’s resolutions during a global pandemic ought to look different because the world is different.
New Year, new me, right? Well, that’s what we used to say back in 2019 when we were spoiled and thought the world sucked, and before 2020 when the world said “watch this”. Back then we had hopes, dreams and resolutions. We wanted to improve, learn new languages, lose weight and live our #BestLives. This year we are under no such illusions. We’re just trying to make it through the year and hope that by the end of it the president lets us play outside again (for good this time) and that Trump doesn’t incite a war. The thing is though, resolutions are a good thing. They give us something to aim for and as such can prove to be psychological north stars in times of emotional darkness. They can also be frustratingly difficult to stick to. If you are up for it, here are a couple that are worth sticking to in 2021:
Reject the tyranny of self-improvement
Everywhere you look everyone is telling us to meditate, exercise, speak things into the universe. We have to hustle harder, stay hydrated and avoid toxicity. After that, we have to remember to get enough sleep, visit (and pay) a therapist. Every Sunday is for self-care and on Tuesdays, it’s yoga but, be careful to remember to be body positive and love the skin we are in. Essentially, like the partner who thought they could “fix” you, we have turned ourselves into these un-finish-able projects and it’s stressing us out.
All of this is simply “hustle porn” rebranded. If you are unfamiliar, co-founder of Reddit and unspeakably lucky husband to Serena Williams Alexis Ohanian explained it as the “idea that unless you are suffering, grinding, working every hour of every day, you’re not working hard enough.”
Self-improvement culture uses the same weapon. If you are not constantly pruning, trimming, clipping and mowing the garden that is your mind, then you may as well be Adolf Hitler. Look, there is nothing wrong with self-improvement. Should you do some yoga? Sure, if that’s what floats your boat. Is it good to see a therapist and stay adequately hydrated? Of course. The problem is that sometimes it’s okay to just be. You will never be perfect and striving for perfection has consistently been proven to have severe adverse effects, so relax. Sometimes it’s okay to just wallow in your own imperfection. In fact, some would say that is the ultimate form of self-care.
Stop making plans
Okay, so don’t stop completely, that would be madness. That said, plans are for times of stability. In 2017 it made sense to plan a holiday two years in advance because not too much was likely to change. Now everything has changed. There’s a global pandemic going around that’s forcing governments to jump between levels of lockdown like children playing on steps. Elsewhere entire countries sporadically catch on fire, protests are now as common as Toyota Corollas and scientists are fairly sure that we’re moments away from having defrosted the polar ice caps. The point is that everything seems to be influx and the universe is wreaking havoc with the best laid plan of mice and men. Who knows, by the end of the year Elon Musk could be the president of the Republic of Earth. In an environment like this, too many things are out of your control for planning to be anything more than a stress factory. Don’t do it to yourself. Instead learn to improvise, adapt and overcome.
Do stuff for the you of it
As a society it has been a long time since we were more acutely aware of our mortality. Everything could come crashing around our ears. You could go to the shops wearing a mask, return home to find out you have Covid-19 and die a few days later. So, make sure your will is in order and then, within regulations of course, do what makes you happy. If you always wanted to start an art collection then do it. Want to learn German, then get Tinder and match with some folks from Berlin. Eat junk food in your pyjamas on a Tuesday morning, bond with your parents, go to the Apartheid Museum. Do all the things you had planned to do but never got around to because too late is closer than it has ever been.