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A New Years’ Resolution You’ll Actually Keep

Writing by Juliette Salom // photograph by Lais Azevedo

It’s coming up to that time of year again: two-almost-three weeks into a January of a year we were sure was going to be ours to own. The shiny new plastic of gym membership cards fill our wallets like the fragile hope for a better year fills our minds. Resolutions were made and dreams were dreamt and as of yet, nothing’s been broken. But do New Years’ resolutions actually help us to self-actualise our goals and aspirations in the span of just twelve months, or is all that we’re doing is setting ourselves up for failure?

As we roll into season three of the worst trilogy of years in the modern era, 2022 seems to hum with both the lullaby of hopeless optimism and the antagonistic anthem of cautious dread. Given the two years that the collective world has shared, the seismic forces of global catastrophe the universe is capable of handballing us can make the humble practice of creating New Years’ resolutions seem a bit like a well-meaning but unlikely fantasy, reserved for the naïve and the unaffected. If anyone’s learnt anything from the last two years, it’s that things change, plans change, people change, and the changing happens because of things so far out of our control that three well intentioned star-pointed goals at the start of your journal will hold no fight in comparison.

Nothing changes if nothing changes. Resolving in 2022 to go to the gym five times a week and buy takeout only once and save lots of money and run your first marathon and all the other numerical-based goals are resolutions well in their intentions, but perhaps not so fruitful in their execution. The eventual unbuckling of our resolutions so often seems to reflect the ill-fated optimism that made the resolutions in the first place. But maybe our ill-fated optimism isn’t ill-fated at all; perhaps it’s just misplaced.

Buying less takeaway and working out more is fine, but in any particular year you’ll either do these things or you won’t. If New Years’ resolutions are an important enough ritual to instigate, important enough to actually be followed through with for the whole twelve months, then why waste it on the gym? The chaotic buzz of optimism a new year can bring, even in the midst of pandemics and climate catastrophes, can feel artificially sweet, so the temptation to spend our resolutions on artificial goals; these are goals that we’re told to care about and strive toward but at the end of the day they barely make it toward the top of our priority lists.

Pumping away on the stair-climbing machine may be important to you, but it might be because it helps keep your mental health in check. Flipping that New Years’ resolution on its head from a numerical goal to an abstract one, like focusing on my mental health, may be the first resolution you keep. Abstract goals allow us to draw attention to the areas of our lives we feel we need to work on, granting us the tool of raising awareness to this area whilst permitting us not to feel as if we’ve failed when we don’t reach some numerical goalpost. The bigger things in our lives, the ones we consider important enough to make resolutions about, aren’t going to be bettered by annual attempts of hitting numbered goals that mean nothing beyond their numbers.

Ring your grandma more, check in with your friends every so often, check in with yourself. The abstract nature of living (a nature that has proven more of the chaotic kind over the past couple of years) means that sometimes numbered goals are the square blocks to our circle holes. New Year’s resolutions needn’t get in the bin; New Years’ resolutions, like the purpose we seek so optimistically in them for, just need to change. Nothing changes if nothing changes, and in a world where everything is changing all the time, we, and the tools we use to help us do so, must change with it.

Juliette Salom

Juliette Salom is a 22-year-old writer from Naarm/Melbourne. She loves watching movies, reading books and going for long walks around the park so she can pat all the cute doggos. Juliette is currently studying Creative Writing and has dabbled in poetry, non-fiction, fiction and screenwriting.

Lais Azevedo

Lais Azevedo is a 24 year old Brazilian, addicted to coffee, sunny days, and photography.
You can follow Lais on Instagram: @laazevedo, check out her Facebook and her Website!

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