With each passing year, more and more people are ditching the outdated idea of New Year’s resolutions, especially in 2023. Growing up, I had all these pressures and expectations surrounding the new year, that the minute the holiday season was over and the clock struck midnight, I would turn into a new, better version of myself. That my life would be just like the movies where January 1st wasn’t just a monumental occasion but a complete transformation into a new era of my life. What I didn’t realize was that I was growing and changing so much that what mattered the world to me on the first day of the year fizzled out by spring, which made me feel like a failure and a fraud, like I had let myself down and prevented myself from reaching my full potential because I hadn’t stuck to my resolutions. Once I reached my late teens, I realized how toxic and unrealistic it was to put so much weight on a single day, especially as a child.
Resolutions, I found, don’t give us space to change our minds.
But even after I ditched making resolutions, I still felt a little lost. I didn’t want to welcome the new year toxicity back into my life but being the Type-A personality that I am, I at least wanted some direction. Because if we don’t have resolutions, what do we do next? Because there’s really nothing wrong in having goals; it’s just the way I was going about it through resolutions didn’t have a roadmap to get there. How often have we promised ourselves that we would “go to the gym more” or “eat healthier”? And how often have we actually made a plan to do so? If there’s no real, steady intention (a backbone if you will) behind our goals, it’s not surprising that we haven’t been checking off our resolutions all this time.
This year, I decided to make a subtle but powerful switch in my mindset toward the new year. First, I decided to change the language when referring to what I want out of this next year of my life. Instead of “resolutions,” I now refer to them as “manifestations,” “intentions,” and “goals.” For me, these words have more power than even “dreams” or “wishes,” which make it sound like I’m just hoping for the best, and help me reclaim control and autonomy over my own life. But they also allow for flexibility, change, growth, disappointments, and failures. Life happens, plans change, and as I get older, I’m learning more to be okay with that, to be gentle and forgiving with myself if things don’t go to plan or take more time than I anticipated. Language plays a huge role in how I view this part of my life.
With this in mind, I also changed how I go about actually accomplishing the things that I want. My intentions for this year vary widely in how much time and energy they’re going to demand from me. Yet whether they’re big or small, I write down what I want in specific terms. For example, not just to “read more books” but “read 50 books.” But I go even further than that, creating the game plan and going through the preliminary steps to accomplish the feat: researching and making a list of books I want to read, ordering them online or reserving them at the library, and scheduling or simply finding pockets of time to read every day or every week.
The same could be said for wanting to learn a new skill like knitting—how can we expect to do so without getting together all the necessary materials first, then finding a teacher or signing up for a class online? And the other day, I finally took action on taking a pair of pants of mine to get tailored, which I’d been literally procrastinating for years, simply by researching a place near me that would do it and asking my mom to go with me. Like any good relationship, we can’t expect others to just know what we want or for us to accomplish a goal without intentional action. So often, the hardest part of any success is getting over the first-step hump.
Even something as big as writing a book is something I’ve found possible to break down into smaller, bite-size steps, like coming up with a date of when I want to get a draft finished, then going back and scheduling blocks of time to research, outline, write, and edit. This year, I had the goal of launching a podcast, which is a big enough task just on its own. I was intimidated and procrastinated, which is what I, and maybe a lot of us, do when faced with something that literally feels impossible. It was up to me to choose a name, design a logo, create an official email address, reach out to people who might want to appear on the show, and decide on a platform. Or take freelancing, a notoriously overwhelming process, that can be broken down into doing good research on editors and publications, crafting pitches, and scheduling time in your day to write. Taking away the mystique of success by setting and accomplishing each step toward a single goal, as well as asking others for help, has made all the difference in how I approach new milestones in my life.
I’m lucky enough to have the privilege of folks in my community offering me opportunities for writing, speaking, and more that I don’t always have to search out myself. I’m grateful for their trust in my work and abilities, and that I worked hard to get to that point. But I’ve also come to realize that not everything just happens to us and sometimes we need to take our life into our own hands to find true bliss. It’s important for me to manifest what I want, picturing it in my mind and setting myself on the road to success. But even more so, I’m learning to embrace and channel my own inner power to accomplish my goals with intention and make 2023 an even better year than the one before.