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New year, old me: 5 anti-resolutions for a sane 2023

It’s still very early into the new year, and chances are, you’re still cracking that planner open, still going to the gym before work, still tracking calories on your phone, and generally still energized by the power of your clean slate. 

But slates can only stay clean for so long, and soon, you probably won’t be able to sustain all your good intentions for the next 12 months. In fact, according to a study by researchers from the University of Scranton, 23% of subjects quit their resolutions after one week, and only 19% manage to stick to their promises for two years. 

We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be better at the start of each year, and then beat ourselves up over what we couldn’t achieve. In truth, however, we already are worthy human beings to begin with – with or without resolutions. 

Writer Oliver Burkeman, in an interview with The Atlantic, has said, “One of the pitfalls of New Year’s resolution culture is that it encourages us all to buy into the idea that you need to make some big change in order to be a minimally acceptable, worthwhile person. And that doesn’t leave any room for the thought that maybe you’re more okay than you thought. Maybe you don’t need to change in some particular way. Maybe reconciling yourself to certain ways that you are is a more powerful thing.”

Here, then, are 5 anti-resolutions for the new year to help put things in a kind and healthy perspective:

1. Eat something mind-numbingly delicious. 

You should eat something you find absolutely delicious, no matter what it is, be it a double cheeseburger, or a candy bar, or shawarma rice, or uni maki. While we definitely do not condone eating non-nutritious, calorific meals every day (we trust you have common sense and the need for dietary fiber), life is way too short not to indulge in something every now and then. Treat yourself to something you like, and savor every succulent bite. Even if you’re trying to eat healthier this year, that doesn’t mean you should shut yourself out completely from all other foods.

2. Do something you’re bad at – and be okay doing it badly.

Many people at the start of each year make commitments to improve on their skills, or to try new hobbies and get great at them. Instead, just do something that interests you and not give a hoot about the results. Who cares if your drawing of your pet cat looks like roadkill? Who cares if your rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” is bringing her back from the dead? Doing things you’re unfamiliar with but have always wanted to do should be amazing and satisfying in and of itself. Life is about experiencing things! Whether you’re good at it or not is truly beside the point.

3. Write a thank you letter to the person you were 10 years ago.

Don’t you hate it when someone asks you where you see yourself in 5, 10 years? There’s suddenly so much pressure on you to foresee a future vastly different from where you are now, when the truth is, it can be perfectly okay to stay the same way if that’s what you prefer, or if that’s just how things happened to turn out. To counteract this pressure, write a thank you letter to the person you were a decade ago. There are likely good things about yourself now that are all thanks to your past self – and these are things you would never have predicted or planned, and never would have told that nosy HR manager or professor back in the day.  

4. Sound-trip on the songs you loved as a teenager. 

Speaking of past selves, it’s okay if you’re set in your ways when it comes to pop culture. It may horrify you when you find out that the songs you loved as a teen are now considered “oldies,” but that shouldn’t take away from how great these works have made you feel. An auditory trip down memory lane is a great way to remind yourself that whoever you are – and that includes what’s on your Spotify Likes – has always been perfectly fine. These songs will also highlight the key moments of your life thus far, and help you feel grateful for having gone through them.

5. Get a digital portrait done of yourself.

Finally, nothing says I am happy with who I am more than getting a portrait done of yourself. These days, you can find countless amazing independent artists on Instagram, each with their own eye-catching styles – from super-traditional to experimental – who can do portrait commissions. You can even ask the artist to highlight the parts of your face or body you like best about yourself. Getting a portrait done can remind you of how unique you already are – and is a special way to brighten up your room and boost your self-confidence at the same time. 

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