By Frieda Levycky of Braving Boundaries and Alicia Koch of The Legal Belletrist

New Year’s Resolutions – they are very resolute aren’t they?

It’s that time of year again – Christmas turkeys have been ordered and champagne is chilling in the fridge. All in preparation for a festive time of the year – boasting promises of hope for the future. 

With that, social media is abuzz with positive images and quotes, everything to help gear you towards “achieving your goals” and tackling 2022 with optimism and positivity. 

Meme after meme motivating us to become better versions of ourselves. As if we are not good enough already. It can get overwhelming. Especially when there is still so much on our plates – a new COVID variant – Omicron, booster vaccines and travel restrictions – again. To name but a few. 

But historically, and as many of us will admit, this is also the time for New Year’s Resolutions. Aaaah, the promises we make to ourselves – to lose weight, to get fit and to find a job that makes us happy. They all sound fantastic in our own heads, especially as we devise plans on how to make them happen. Complex and intricate details around step-by-step improvements that we promise to implement come Day One of the New Year. But are they always realistic? 

Either way, they do serve to make us feel better as we indulge in a chocolate or two, have a second helping of Christmas lunch or simply lay on the couch binging Netflix. It calms us down as we reflect on our holiday excess and it gives us a sense of hope that this excess can all be forgotten about and done away with. This sort of “buyer’s remorse” for holidays, propels us to make the wild promises to ourselves to “get into shape” as we unwrap a Jaffa cake and turn on the telly. 

We have abandoned our restraint (and all reason) but dispel our fears of complete ruin by setting goals to start our new year afresh and completely motivated. We are on holiday after all and excuses to “let go” come easily (and aplenty). 

It’s not a bad thing to let go, of course. A little R&R is most certainly needed (particularly after the last two years). But it is the promises around the R&R that are important. 

A New Year, a New You?

It seems like a viscous cycle. Come 1st January – after a night full of “Auld Lang Syne”, champagne corks popping and heads aching – gym, yoga or pilates memberships increase at a rapid rate, diets are hastily undertaken and more positive memes are posted on social media. “Out with the old and in with the new” seems to be the general motto with an overall sense of self-improvement (and possible enlightenment) a flurry. 

It’s like we all wake up at the start of the new year thinking it will be easy as pie to turn over a new leaf and change everything about ourselves. Cabbage soup diets commence. Carbs and wine become unspoken terms. 5am alarms spur us into action for early morning park runs. And those size 8 jeans that have been embarrassingly hidden in the back of our closets for the last ten years, once again, remerge with the allure of: “You can do this”. And there we find ourselves, starting the New Year determined and brimming with self-belief. 

Inevitably, however (and if the surveys are anything to go by), as we settle into the new ebb and flow that is a new year, we become accustomed to a new rhythm and that does not always go hand-in-hand or in sync with the goals we have set for ourselves. All of a sudden, come “Quitters Day” (aka 19 January), our resolutions and what we sought to achieve often seem too far out of reach and are thus abandoned unfulfilled and seemingly meaningless. 

This, in turn, leaves us feeling disappointed and disheartened. Like a failure before we’ve even really begun. A recipe for disaster and certainly no good for our self-esteem. We find ourselves in front of the mirror asking:

“Why is it that with every good intention, I am unable to get fit, lose weight, save more money or find that so-called “happy job”? (the apparently most highly ranked New Year’s resolutions according to Statista). Why does improving my life seem so elusive?”

It’s not the resolution, it’s you

Perhaps it’s the word “resolution” that instills fear of under-achievement in all of us. It is a very intimidating, demanding word – the finality and seriousness of it. It’s like something you “must do”, “have to do” – with seemingly no room for failure.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a Resolution means – 

“a firm decision to do or not to do something”.

It’s the firm decision part that has a way of doing us all in. 

But you see, it’s not the resolution itself that is doomed to fail, like dieting or exercising. It’s your mindset that encourages you to “change” that is most likely at fault. In order to succeed with a goal, you need to change the way you think in order to sustain the motivation to succeed. Unless you change your mindset, your health goals or financial goals will not magically materialise. You need to put in the mental effort first. 

Change in and of itself is a scary concept. It involves, at least to a certain degree, a certain amount of emotional strain which in turn can lead to stress, overall discomfort, anxiety, feelings of failure and sometimes depression. Change is not easy for anyone. And that difficulty can lead to a degree of self-sabotage.  

So, the next logical question is this – how do we change this “setting yourself up to fail” cycle?

New Year’s Resolutions with a twist

Take Melinda Gates as an example. Melinda does not make New Year’s resolutions. While she does resolve to change, instead of having a list of “resolutions”, she chooses a single word to bring her guidance and clarity. She has said that the power of a well-chosen (and focused) word makes the year better, gives her clarity on what she wants to achieve and helps her to focus on an overall (and often continuing) goal. It is a gentler approach and alternative to a long list of resolutions which encourages growth and optimism despite setbacks. 

As we look back on the last two years, we realise that having a long list of resolutions that are perhaps unattainable (simply because the world is so full of uncertainty at the moment) is not necessarily the kindest thing to do to ourselves. Instead, we believe we need to dig a little deeper and find something that encapsulates everything we want to achieve and then take small, daily steps to get closer to that goal. 

A different approach for 2022

This New Year we believe it is ok to take it a little easier on yourself. Rather than creating a long list of things to accomplish, we encourage you to: 

  1. Identify the changes you want to make in 2022 and how those changes will benefit your life as a whole. 
  2. Then choose one word that fully encapsulates the changes you want to make in 2022. Let that be the word that becomes your guiding light for the year.

Finding your word is just the start. But it’s the beginning of a journey that will gently get you to where you want (and need) to be. 

Take a read of Part 2 of this Article to gain some insight into how you can turn that one word into a year’s worth of action. Released on Friday, 17 December 2021.

About the writer, Alicia Koch, Founder of The Legal Belletrist.

Alicia, an admitted attorney with over 10 years PQE, and now a legal writer and researcher, has established The Legal Belletrist to assist companies (in different sectors) to write well-researched articles that speak to each company’s core business, enabling growth and commercialism. 

Click here to visit The Legal Belletrist website.