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Thursday, February 29, 2024

‘New Year, New Me’: The pressure of reinventing ourselves every New Year

5 min readThe new year does not need a ‘new you.’ Instead of pressing yourself too hard to achieve a big change throughout the year, take the time to enjoy the beautiful process of learning, exploring, and growing — one step at a time.
Profile picture of Andrei Miguel Hermosa

Published about 2 months ago on January 07, 2024

by Andrei Miguel Hermosa

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Scenes from Little Women (2019), Tick, Tick... Boom! (2021), Soul (2020) Gilmore Girls (2000)

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For many of us, New Year is a symbolic reset button, an opportunity to redirect our lives and put the past behind us. With the sense of fresh beginnings brought by the start of a new year, we feel compelled to make a change and become better versions of ourselves. “New year, new me,” that’s what we would always tell ourselves.

Hence, every time January approaches, we devise New Year’s resolutions. May they be goals we intend to accomplish by the end of the year that typically involve changing negative traits and behaviors,continuing positive practices, or learning something new. Whichever they may be, these resolutions serve as our resolve to spark positive changes in ourselves.

However, as meaningful as these resolutions are, we often don’t stick to them for long. During the first weeks of January, we’d find ourselves passionately committing to them — we’d wake up with a lot of energy and enthusiasm, determined to make progress. But by February or March, when the glow of the fresh new year wears off, all that passion will diminish, and our resolutions will eventually end up as failures. After having high hopes that we would be able to make things better and to become a different person, we’d end up staying the same, stuck with the same old circumstances we couldn’t change.

But why do we often fail to accomplish our New Year’s resolutions? Why can’t we reinvent ourselves the way we want to? Should we just not make New Year’s resolutions at all?

High expectations and unrealistic resolutions

Photo from Shutterstock

Photo from Shutterstock

The problem is not in our resolutions. After all, they encourage self-improvement and make us feel hopeful about the year ahead.

The problem lies in the pressure we place ourselves on these resolutions.

Society has long perpetuated the idea that for us to feel good about ourselves, we must aim big and achieve drastic changes by the end of the year. Consequently, our New Year’s resolutions often end up being unrealistic. We yearn for lofty goals that promise huge outcomes, with the expectation that we can accomplish them in a single year. For instance, you might aim to gain 50 pounds of muscle even though you’ve only started going to the gym or aim to immediately quit a vice you’ve been practicing for several years.

Frankly, the expectation to accomplish something ambitious in a single year is what urges us to approach our resolutions in a pressured way. If we aim to lose weight, we’d already want to see progress during the first weeks of January. We'd already anticipate permanent changes in our behavior if we aim to change a particular attitude. With the desire to better ourselves before the year ends, we’d push ourselves harder, eager to see positive results as soon as possible.

Then, disappointment kicks in when we fail to attain them. We’d berate ourselves for not being capable enough to accomplish our goals, then begin to think that there is no more hope for us to change or improve, and worse, we’d begin to question the purpose of resolutions. So what if we lose weight? So what if we fix our toxic behaviors? So what if we live healthier lifestyles? What difference would these resolutions make?

We fail to realize that resolutions — especially those that aim for huge changes — take time to come true. After all, change is a process; it is not something that can happen in a short period of time. Accomplishing a lofty resolution may look easy on paper, but you’ll grapple with numerous difficulties and missteps once you get down to it.

Even if you manage to make some progress, you’d likely end up regressing or getting your progress halted, you’d slip back to your old habits, continue practicing toxic behaviors, and keep making the same mistakes that you’ve sworn to avoid committing again, it’s unfortunate, but that’s just how the change process occurs.

Reframing our resolutions

Photo from FreshSplash/Getty Images

Photo from FreshSplash/Getty Images

With the slate still clean, we’d feel pressured to start the new year with a bang and make progress towards our resolutions immediately. Those of us who couldn’t make a good start might feel frustrated and berate ourselves along the way.

How do we overcome this pressure, you might ask?

Simply by approaching our resolutions with a realistic mindset.

Instead of shooting for the stars, it’s best to manage our expectations and break down our lofty resolutions into smaller, more attainable goals, we must remember that a year will likely be too short to achieve a drastic change, like psychologist Dr. Susan Albers, PsyD said, many of the traits and behaviors we aim to change through our resolutions “involve activities or habits that [we’ve] had for years.” Therefore, we need to give ourselves time to adapt to the changes we will make.

In other words, we start slowly. We don’t need to set the tone immediately during the first days of the first month, nor aim to end the year with ambitious outcomes. We must slowly practice new activities and habits until we get completely accustomed to them. If you’re aiming to lose weight, you could start with a low target first.. If you’re planning to pick up a new hobby, start with the basics and don’t expect to get the hang of it immediately. If you’re planning to change a particular attitude, accept that you may revert to old habits at times. The list goes on, but just remember to think small and avoid biting off more than you can chew.

Moreover, it’s also imperative that you assess your circumstances — particularly, the struggles and hardships you are currently facing. You have to consider whether the goals you’re setting are doable given your current circumstances and ensure that working towards such goals won’t compromise your emotional well-being in any way. For instance, if you’re still feeling burnt out due to the predicaments brought by the pandemic, it may not be advisable for you to work on goals that may amplify your emotional stress, such as trying to learn a difficult hobby or aiming to achieve a grade of straight A’s.

The idea of reinventing ourselves every New Year is wonderful, but we must also be patient with ourselves. The process of self-improvement is not a race where you must move quickly so you won’t be left behind. It’s a journey where you can slow down or take a step back whenever things get too difficult and just get back on track whenever you feel like yourself again.

Remember: we have the whole year to work on ourselves, and if that won’t suffice, we’ll still have the next years. As long as we recognize the need to make positive changes and actively work towards it, we will get there at our own pace.

Embracing the journey

Photo from Pngtree

Photo from Pngtree

The new year does not need a ‘new you.’ Instead of pressing yourself too hard to achieve a big change throughout the year, take the time to enjoy the beautiful process of learning, exploring, and growing — one step at a time.

Often, we get so fixated on the outcomes of our resolutions that we forget to appreciate the processes we go through in working towards those outcomes. At the end of the day, it’s not always the ultimate goal of our resolutions that matters. The insights, lessons, and experiences we obtain along the way also hold significant weight that could positively shape our lives and nurture our growth as individuals.

In my case, I’ve certainly learned a lot from one of my major resolutions last year, which was to get a grade of straight A’s during the first semester of my third year in college. I failed to achieve this, but I realized two important truths. I learned that I still have a long way to go regarding improving my studying habits and coping strategies. I was also reminded of the true essence of studying: not to get high marks, but to gain knowledge and learn how to use it. Much like me, you probably have learned something from your resolutions — whether about yourself, life, or the world.

As the old adage goes: “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.” Thus, whether or not our resolutions will come to reality, the journey of working towards them will always be worth the hassle, with how much we could learn from it.

Growth

New Year

Pressure

Resolutions

Self-improvement

Profile picture of Andrei Miguel Hermosa

Andrei Miguel Hermosa

Blogs Writer

Andrei Miguel Hermosa is a Blogs Writer at TomasinoWeb. Andrei writes about pop culture, introspective topics, and social issues. As a proud literature major, he has a tremendous interest in analyzing books, films, songs, and any literary pieces from a critical lens. When he’s not writing or studying, Andrei finds comfort in reading YA novels, watching slice-of-life films, playing video games, and fanboying over K-pop groups. But among his interests, K-pop will always be his number one. Just mention BTS, Seventeen, or Le Sserafim, and he’ll be summoned!

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