January is around the corner, and for many of us, that means three thing— the post-Christmas blues, a long slog to payday and the pressures of New Years’ Resolutions. Come February, most of us have undoubtedly failed the impossible goals we set for ourselves to transform our minds, body, and souls, leaving us feeling lower than ever.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. In our current climate, when living is a little bit more difficult, we should use the new year as a vehicle for making our goals more manageable and accepting ourselves as we are. So, if you’re still wanting to try a little self-improvement but find you always set yourself unrealistic goals, Nell has collated a list of the most cliched resolutions and made them a little kinder.
1. Lose weight
The industry knows that we’ve indulged in delicious food over the holidays and partied a little more than usual, so their marketing ramps up in the new year, igniting insecurities that we’ve tried to keep at bay.
Your social media feed will slowly transition from warming winter recipes, present ideas, and Christmas party OOTNs to diet plans, exercise guides, and discounts on gym leggings.
You might think that you’re above this and that you can ignore these not-so-subtle messages to make your body smaller, but if you’ve ever struggled with body image, January is a tough month.
In my experience, there is almost no way to make losing weight a kind goal, so from here, we have three options— succumb to the pressure and spend three to four weeks dedicated to a weight loss plan that will leave you more unhappy and insecure than ever, live as a hermit until the hype wears off, or continue reading to find a different resolution not linked to your appearance.
I certainly know what I’d rather do. I won’t claim that finding new challenges will keep the pressure to transform your body at bay, but if it allows you a bit of distraction from the ‘New Year, New Body’ brigade, I’m happy.
2. Become fluent in a new language.
I asked a friend what her New Year’s Resolution was going to be and she responded, “Try and learn Spanish lol”.
This statement beautifully summed up how most of us feel about learning a new language from scratch.
It is an unbelievable achievement, and it opens you up to a thousand more opportunities, making your life richer.
However, it’s also laughably difficult. This is not to say you shouldn’t try, but if you haven’t sat in a language class since school and you’re not planning to live abroad anytime soon, it’s probably not going to happen.
So, as an alternative, I propose this.
Take this year to learn enough to ‘get by’ in a new place. Enough so that if you ever go on holiday you won’t be that person shouting in English in the hope that it makes you more coherent.
If you’ve managed that by next December (amazing), you’ll know that learning a new language is manageable and you’ll be less likely to give it up.
3. Read a new book every week
Most of us spend far too much time online and it would do us good to pick up a book once in a while. But are you going to read a new book? Every week? I think not.
Instead, try listening to audio books from your phone. If I do say so myself, this is genius as your phone will already be in use.
You will be less likely to open a notification or feel like scrolling through TikTok.
It also means you can try new books whilst doing other tasks and won’t have to dedicate your time solely to reading, which is unrealistic for many of us with our schedules and commitments.
It’s also important to choose your books wisely. If you’ve never been a big reader, committing yourself to finally reading War and Peace is not going to happen. Go for books you know you’ll enjoy, even if it’s something trashy.
The point here is that you’re reading to relax your mind, not to impress anyone by quoting Tolstoy.
4. Get organised
Okay, first of all, what does this even mean?
Setting yourself a vague goal like this is setting yourself up for failure. Before you make this your resolution, define what area of your life you want to make more streamlined. If you forget things, make daily to-do lists so you can trust yourself to remember.
If you’re always late, identify the reason.
Maybe you aren’t getting enough sleep, take too long to choose an outfit, or make small changes so that you have more time.
If you’re messy, you’ll always be messy (take it from me), so embrace the chaos. It’s essential to add, if you’re setting a goal like this for yourself, you’re probably already a pretty organised person.
Therefore, this might be a good chance to reflect on the areas of your life where you have made good progress.
You don’t need to commit to a full overhaul of your life each January that will actually add to your workload.
5. Learn to love your body
This is an incredibly important one and something we should strive for, but adding extra pressure to view yourself as a goddess, superhero, or icon 100% of the time is only going to make things worse.
Committing the new year to ‘Loving Your Body’ is a massive task to undertake alone, so if this is still your goal, I’ve broken it down a little.
First up is pinpointing what exactly causes you to feel like you aren’t beautiful.
For many of us, this will probably be social media.
In 2023, I won’t be advising you to delete everything and buy a brick phone. Moreover, I don’t want to deny you the simple pleasure of watching videos of cows and dogs making friends.
However, what worked for me was deleting the apps so that you can only access the worst culprits through your browser. It makes using social media frustrating and clunky so you won’t be tempted to spend too long on your phone, limiting the number of enviable posts you might see in a day.
As sad as it is, bouts of low self-esteem are a fact of life as there will always be external and internal messages telling us that we are not good enough. Therefore, you should resolve to not beat yourself up if you do have a bad body image day.
It’s only if these bad days are becoming frequent and impacting your life drastically that it should be a cause for concern.
From here, it’s all about slightly altering your language so that you can still commit to improving your confidence without getting too militant about it.
If unconditional self-love is too much of an ask at the moment, aim for self-acceptance or body neutrality. Focusing on loving your body still places attractiveness as your most important asset and detracts from your other brilliant qualities.
Accepting your body as a vessel to experience life rather than the be-all and end-all of your existence might be a better way to go. You might think these approaches to New Years’ Resolutions are remarkably cynical. God knows we all need a boost and entering January with a go-getting #GIRLBOSS attitude would be ideal, but I’m here to tell you that falling short of this is not a crime. We all are dealing with remarkably different circumstances.
Aiming to become the perfect person who is well-read, goes to spin, is fluent in Italian, and wakes up at 5am to tidy their bedroom will only end up in burnout. So, this year, by all means, set yourself new challenges, but above all, be realistic and be kind to yourself.
To see more of what Nell has written, visit @nelllanne on Instagram.