My 2018 Resolution: To Focus Less on Resolutions

At the beginning of 2017, I made a very ambitious list of New Year’s Resolutions—to be exact, I wrote a list of 30 resolutions. Some resolutions were daily habits; to journal every day, for example. Some were spread over a longer period of time, but were still specific; I wanted to maintain a certain GPA, read a certain amount of books and make a certain amount of progress on various projects.

Other resolutions were more thematic (and therefore inadvertently ambiguous). One simply read “Read the news more.” Resolutions like this one didn’t have tangible outcomes attached to them, making it challenging to objectively say whether or not I achieved them. For the most part, I achieved my resolutions. One that I didn’t meet was my reading challenge; I wanted to read 52 books this year. I had every intention of following through with that resolution, but school overtook my reading time and I ended the year having read 43 books.

In addition to loving to plan things, I’m also big on reflecting. As I reflected on the fact that I didn’t meet my reading goal, a strange thought occurred to me: I didn’t really care that I hadn’t met it. Fifty-two books seemed like a significant number, since it averaged out to one book per week. But it didn’t mean much to me; I didn’t have a significant motivation for wanting to complete the challenge. This thought made me wonder if my list of 30 resolutions was a list that, while looking great on paper, didn’t have a lot of relevance to my everyday life.

So in 2018, I’m trying something different. I have a few specific goals and a few more ambiguous plans for the year. But, by and large, I don’t have a concrete list of New Year’s Resolutions. I know my list of goals are technically New Year’s Resolutions. But I wonder if, by calling them “goals” and not “resolutions” I might feel more positively about the notion of trying to achieve a goal, and feel less pressure about fulfilling a resolution.

As I mentioned earlier, I love to reflect. I used the last pages of my 2017 journal to reflect on the year. Did I achieve my resolutions? What were the best moments? The worst? What did I learn? Thinking about all of my memories from the year, I concluded what I already knew to be true—that 2017 was an amazing year for me. On New Year’s Eve, writing in my leather bound notebook, I felt so fortunate to be entering 2018 surrounded by great friends and family, with lots of exciting opportunities and experiences on the horizon.

At some point during my time reflecting, it occurred to me that, if I really was starting off the new year in such a good place in my life, I shouldn’t really need to make a drastic list of resolutions, anyways. Why, I wondered, should I make another list of 30 things to do to improve my life, when my life is already pretty great?

Of course, you can be in a good place in life and still seek to improve—continual self-improvement and lifelong learning are important. But clearly, from my list of 30 resolutions last year, I tend to view New Year’s Resolutions as a way to make big, sweeping changes. (And judging by all of the gym advertisements that are suddenly popping up, so do a lot of other people.)

I don’t think we should use the new year as a reason to suddenly improve our lives—if we’re unhappy with something in our life, we should resolve to change it, whether it’s June or January. And if we’re happy with our lives, then we shouldn’t worry about completely reinventing ourselves for the upcoming year. If we’re not truly invested in our resolutions, then they really are just words on paper (which may cause us more stress if we’re not achieving them, even if they’re not really important in our lives).

My 2018 resolution is, in effect, to focus less on making big changes, and more on the things that already make me happy with my life. I have a suspicion that I’m going to like this a lot better than my list of 30 resolutions—but only time will tell. One thing, though, is for certain: I’ll be back here next January, writing about the effectiveness of my “no resolutions in 2018” resolution. Stay tuned!


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32 thoughts on “My 2018 Resolution: To Focus Less on Resolutions

  1. Hello Sherina. I’m a fan of your blog. I don’t normally do the extraneous stuff like blog ‘awards’ and the like, but I had so much free time earlier that I got sucked in.
    This all means that I’ve gone and nominated you for something called the Liebster Award in my post: https://revolutionfrommybed.wordpress.com/2018/01/08/blog-or-what/. Feel free to completely ignore this – I nearly did.

    As I say I got sucked in, and when I had to nominate someone else, you immediately sprung to mind. Hope you have an extremely wonderful 2018. Mx

  2. Hello Sherina, I think because New Year is a ‘big thing,’ a kind of landmark in our lives, it’s not a bad idea to take stock and resolve to take an action or two to improve our lives, and hopefully the lives of others. I read some great advice from Rhonda Byrne the other day, which I’m posting here in its entirety. I hope that’s OK. It just makes so much sense to me. Best wishes for a wonderful New Year!

    The Only New Year’s Resolution I Ever Make

    A new year means New Year’s resolutions for many people. I want to share with you the only New Year’s resolution I ever make.  This one New Year’s resolution is all encompassing – it will take care of all your other resolutions in one go, whether that’s to find love, lose weight, be healthier, make more money, or whatever it is you want for 2018.
     
    Be positive! 

    Make a promise to yourself to be as positive as you can possibly be.  Make a promise to yourself to be more positive than you’ve ever been in your life.  At the beginning of each day promise yourself: “Today, wherever I go and whatever I’m doing, I will be positive!”

    Being positive means that you will look for the positive things in people, circumstances, and all things.

    Being positive means that if any negative words come out of your mouth, you will stop mid-sentence and immediately turn the sentence into a positive one.

    Being positive means that you will have fewer negative emotions, and even if a negative emotion arises you will be positive about it too by allowing the negative emotion to be rather than trying to push it away.

    Being positive means that you will automatically focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want.

    Being positive means that you will become an attractive force for what you want.

    Being positive means that negative thoughts and words will begin to fall away.

    Being positive means that you will begin to feel happier and happier each day.

    Being positive means that you will have fewer problems.

    Being positive means that life will go smoothly for you, everyday events will fall into place, and things will go your way.

    Being positive means that you will feel good! 

    Make a commitment to change your entire life in 2018 through the simple, singular act of being positive!

    Wishing you a Happy, Positive New Year for 2018!

    — Rhonda Byrne

      1. Thanks Sherina, I hope it’ll be helpful to your followers. It’s easy to say, ‘be positive’ but you need pointers on how exactly to do that, and I think Rhonda does give some in her post (and on her Secret site too of course.) I’ve printed it out and put it on my office wall! Along with the Optimist’s Creed I intend to look at them frequently in 2018! :-)


  3. I like goals so much better too. It gives me something to work toward; like continually bettering myself throughout the year, like you mentioned, and I update them every season. Resolutions feel like I have to be in the mindset to get them completed rather than take steps to work towards them. It’s nitpicky, but goals vs resolutions makes all the difference for me. I love your resolution; good luck with it!

  4. Happy New Year! I just wrote about this- I don’t do resolutions for the same reasons! I might set one or two goals to hit for the year (last year I wanted to read 52 books too and think I ended up at a fat zero), but I generally just set a few intentions for the year. I find that helps me start the next year feeling a little less guilty for all the things I didn’t do. Last year I really wanted to figure out what was making me unhappy in my day to day, and fix it. So I quit my job! This year I am resolving to read more, write more, be open to coming changes, and take more pictures 🙂

  5. Happy 2018!

    It’s kind of funny because I’ve come up with both “resolutions” and more concrete goals for this year. Primarily, because I always thought resolutions were lesser goals ambiguous ideals for myself that I could happily go on without completing but goals were something that I wasn’t going to let myself escape doing. Regardless, your resolution is great and amazing introspective! It’s always great to look at all the things that we appreciate already in life and sometimes just being content with our current selves.

  6. I’ve deliberately chosen to call them resolutions and not goals because I have many goals that I want to achieve in this year, and many more will be added to the list as life goes on. But I really wanted to focus on doing things more regularly and get out of procrastination. You can see my resolutions on my blog. I’ve trimmed them to only two. If previous years have taught me anything, it’s that a long list of New Year’s Resolution is hard to keep track of!

  7. I love this! I can’t call things I want to change resolutions so I get discouraged. Last year, a friend of mine sat down with me (before the new year) and we wrote down what goals we wanted to accomplish (what we wanted to accomplish over the year). As the year went one, I succeeded in some areas, and realized I didn’t care as much about others as I thought I did. I also noticed that I hold myself back when I’m afraid of a task (because I might succeed or fail at it).
    I love the idea of focusing on what we have that already makes us happy instead of focusing on what to change. Thank you for that perspective! That is definitely something I want to practice.
    With love, Shayann Michaela.

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Shayann! That’s an interesting note that you held yourself back from tasks you were afraid to fail or succeed at–very insightful to realize that!

  8. i am really liking this blog, it covers what I, and most of us feel that theirs this certain pressure we put on ourselves to change and start over every year even when we don’t feel the need to..and that’s okay.
    Best plan in life is not to have one 😊🖒

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