It’s January again — meaning an entirely new and different year — and, for a significant part of the population, a new chance for starting over, and creating new beginnings.
And if there is perhaps one concept that best signifies all this, it is that of the New Years’ Resolution. Where the very concept itself begins is unclear, although historians have surmised that they date back to around 4,000 years ago, in Babylonian periods. It is now 4,000 New Years’ later, and the tradition remains a strong one among many — and upon consideration, it’s not too difficult to see why: as the year winds back to square one on the calendar, the obligation to holistically reinvent our lives for the better increasingly looms, as does the pressure to be the very best version of ourselves — which, we convince ourselves will finally happen this year: whether it is losing weight, finding a better job, or a healthier dieting pattern. The constant drive to better ourselves takes an upward spike — and then, just as easily, dives down as the year progresses.
You may be familiar with the process itself: with December comes the inevitable holiday season, and all the glimmering merriness it brings along, but as January arrives, normalcy begins to set in, and there is the inevitable settling down of spirits. The twinkling lights are taken down, and the anticipation of confronting the mundane reality of day-to-day looms once more. And so we vow to renew ourselves along with the year, if only to inject a final dose of excitement — or at least the promise of it. But reality is much less exciting, and eventually, as what happens in years past, resolutions get abandoned for more important tasks — that is, life gets in the way, or so we say.
But perhaps the equally inevitable, unescapable truth is just that — life will probably just always get in the way every single time, and our resolutions get all but buried in the dust, waiting to be revived the following year. Or the year after. So perhaps, here’s a new resolution for this year: to abandon New Years’ Resolutions, and jump headfirst into the new year, and every hurdle, ambush, and wonder that comes with it. There is a beauty to vulnerability, and the raw authenticity and growth that comes with complete, utter openness to experience — both good and bad — is one unparalleled by any bullet-point New Years’ Resolution. Continuous, perpetual progress is what life revolves around, after all, rather than a series of timeline-bound achievements.
This isn’t to say that achievements are inherently wrong either, but rather the millennia old (literally) timeline of dictated ‘success points’ that define unrealistic standards of achievement is perhaps what remains the biggest myth, and culprit. Symbolic achievements — job promotions, awards — are not pinpoints of success, but rather by-products of our own small, personal efforts — including getting up in the morning, and mustering the courage to face whatever it is outside the door.
So perhaps, after all this, it’s probably time to let the “New Year, New You” out the door, and instead spend time with the same person built from last year’s every experience, and that of the year before that, and the one before that, and so on. There is no need for a new version — the same one works just as well as it always has, flaws and all. There is a rarity in being our authentic selves — and that, in itself, is an incredibly courageous act.