How to Choose Your 2021 New Year's Resolutions
(After a year when they could not have mattered any less.)
I have never given a shit about New Year’s Resolutions. My mindset was: until we live to see the day where holiday fat-feasting puts the entire world into a three-day coma and we all awaken as different vibrational beings, changing a life from Thursday night to Friday morning just isn't plausible. This isn’t to say I don’t believe in setting manic goals for growth. Every Spring since I was twelve I’ve said, “This is the summer I’ll have abs!” (Thanks, Seventeen Magazine). And any other urges I get to rebrand myself completely just occur during Autumn, the time around my birthday, which also used to align with the start of a new school year. In short, I’m not against life style changes, I just found the cliché of NYE Resolutions as annoying as your officemate who is a peppy chatterbox every morning, before 9 AM.
I typically revel in chaos and mishap, one of my favorite Laws being Murphy’s, and one of my most grounding quotes being, “The best-laid plans of mice and men oft' go awry.” That being said, I actually do feel sympathetic to anyone who believed past an Instagram post that “2020 was going to be their year.” I can’t imagine what kind of shell shock someone is experiencing after planning the perfect social calendar only to be told to burn it in the California Wildfires because we have to defeat a virus with Netflix and the rise of sourdough.
On top of my new found sympathy, I am also feeling softer and...nicer? Which is weird because I assumed I’d get face fillers before Grinch heart fillers. So, this year I’m actually going to take this whole New Year’s Resolution thing seriously. I think I’m better able to stomach the concept because of this lesson I learned in 2020: Sometimes you have to look at what you want not for what it is, but the thematic thing you want behind it. If that got lost on you because you came to my blog for the humor and pretty pictures and not for my attempts at being Marcus Aurelius, please enjoy the (extremely personal) example below to illustrate more clearly.
If I had a dime for every time I went back to my ex these past few years, I’d have $1.20.
$1.80 if you’re asking my best friend. Said best friend has expressed frustration with my choices to spend time, effort, and worry on someone who has routinely forgotten my last name and thinks that me "doing comedy" is the joke. Believe me you, it has been a personal mindfuck for me as well to want to be with someone I ultimately would never want to be with. Then one day it dawned on me: I would go back time after time because thematically, the deeper thing I actually craved was human connection--something we’re all severely lacking this year.
The point of that peek behind the curtain is to aid in setting up your 2021 resolutions. Don’t treat them like a game of Mad-Libs, filling in expensive nouns and shiny adjectives you want to see come to fruition. That’s how you get the 2020 scenario of:
Resolution #1: I’m going to more bars this year! CUT TO: ALL BARS CLOSE ACROSS THE NATION. AND WORLD.
Rather, try to look at the theme behind your resolutions. If it was going to bars, you might be looking for a stronger social life, if it’s a perfect bod, you should look into health, if it’s making more content for TikTok...well you’re on your own and I don’t want to be associated with you.
In addition to keeping thematics at the core of my intention setting, here are some tips that have helped me work on not only planning for the New Year, but for the the big picture of life as well:
1. Write It Down (And Make It Pretty)
Whether you obsess over the Law of Attraction, are connected at the muscular hip to your personal trainer, or devour self-help books instead of reading them, you know that they all encourage you to write down your goals. Some schools of thought go a creative step further and encourage you to make a vision board (or Pinterest board!) to help visualize what you want. If you’re a Type A+ like me: you’ve constructed a vision board with your 100 Crayola markers and synced it up with your three planners. Whatever you do, get that abstract thought out of your head and solidify it as concretely and clearly as possible. I’d like to add that the more aesthetically pleasing you make this list, the more you’ll want to look at it, making for a very cute and consistent reminder.
2. What Do You Actually Want? Now Move Backwards.
The image above has beed edited with a Gaussian blur (thanks, Photoshop!) not because I’m ashamed of what I want, but as a reminder that no one needs to know what your intentions are for this year. If your resolution is to get rich by syphoning your husband’s bank account over the span of twelve months, then he definitely shouldn’t know. We’re in a day and age where everyone feels the need to share everything online to validate it (Hi, yes, I know, I have a blog) but don’t let your need to post limit how much you dream. If you’re going to feel embarrassed for wishing that you were two inches taller (a very real dream of mine) then don’t share it!
Ok, so now you’ve aimed for the moon. Next step is to plan how you'll get to said moon. Because it is possible. If you’re rolling your eyes right about now, trust me I’ve been in your skeptical shoes and my ocular muscles are huge. The idea here is to find what you ultimately want in a dreamy way, and then bring it back to reality by working backwards. If the end goal is doing the splits, AMAZING! Now do your research and find out what muscles need to be stretched and for how long. Youtube says you can do it in 8 weeks? Great, now plan how your days from January through March look (let’s be honest you might need room for a break in there) with you incorporating weird leg pulls with guttural releases that will ultimately concern the hell out of your neighbors.
3. It’s OK to invest, in fact, you should!
As a creative, my beliefs around money have skewed conservative as the terrifying narrative of “starving artists” still hasn’t been eradicated from our society. I already was an extremely frugal person who only got worse with age. It's gotten so bad that it's begun to backfire: I'll buy extremely cheap things to “save money” not realizing how quickly they break and spend more money replacing them immediately. These fears crescendoed to a point where I would avoid spending money on big ticket items even if it meant missing out on something that would directly help my career. Acting classes for over $100? Fuck no, I’ll find a book from the library. Pilot writing class over $200? Pass, I should have learned how to do that in college and it’s on me for not being a more disciplined post-grad. The list goes on, but ultimately 2020 was the year I realized that the currency of our reality is...well, currency. And goods offered to benefit yourself will have a price, but if it means making you better at your craft, invest! This doesn’t have to be limited to classes, it could also be equipment or subscriptions. If one of your resolutions is to improve an aspect of your life, don’t be afraid to research what kind of investments need to be made to take you to the next level. (This is where I'd insert a NutriBullet Ad--if they hadn't sent me a cease and desist letter Christmas morning.)
4. Reassessment is OK (Some promises were meant to be broken)
Maybe you’ve been working on something in 2020 and you’re unsure of whether to take it into the new year. There are those times in life where you achieve a goal and rather than feeling a sense of accomplishment or an itch to continue, you’re left with lackluster nothingness. (Years later, you may have that moment of enlightened gratitude for the hours spent learning the xylophone. But in the moment, you just want to throw it against a wall--which would sound like Tinker Bell getting hit by a bus.) Or maybe you learned the dark truth about the underbelly of the beast that is your dream, bringing you to a realization that it doesn’t align with your morals. When pursuing anything, there will be times when you hit a healthy wall or plateau you should push through, but there will also be times when you recognize that it’s okay to quit. Some promises to yourself were meant to be broken, like the promise I made at sixteen to never abandon my signature side bangs. If this seems too bleak of an outlook and you need a little more encouragement: know that some things don’t have to be dropped completely, they can simply be readjusted! (I still part my hair to the side most days.)
5. Be Flexible
If there’s one thing you should have taken away from making a list of resolutions last year, it has to be this. I’d like to add that my astrologist, Haley Comet, can back up the notion that 2021 will be all about practicing flexibility. Go for what you want but also take the time to pause and pivot when shift happens. Which goes back to my overarching point: if you know thematically what you want, you won’t be thrown when your pegged by a logistics curveball. Instead, all those little mishaps will roll right off your back because you'll know from staring crazily at your vision boards that the end purpose of your hopes and dreams will still be attainable.
If this helped bring clarity to your 2021 goals, tap that adorable little heart button! I’d love to read what themes you hope to achieve from 2021 in the comments below! (Yes, “getting my shit together” counts as one.)
Need more unsolicited advice? Build your meditation practice with my help here!