Reset the resolve

As the new year starts, many of us have made resolutions for the new year ahead. ‘I will start working out; I need to work on my relationship; I want to quit smoking.’ The list goes on. I wonder what motivates us to make these resolutions at the beginning of a year. What inspires us to make these promises, and what does the timing of these decisions mean for us? Partly I believe that we are creatures of habit and inherently like to follow most trends. There is a sense of safety in adapting to the rule of the majority, and only a few will reject the norm. Social media is evidence of how we follow whatever is the current flavour of the month, and most of us don’t even chew new ideas and impulsively act on them even if they don’t resonate with us.
We are all work in progress, and we try our best to survive to the best of our potential, which is challenging in one way or another. We all have our battles and struggles. We fall, and we get up. We keep trying even when it looks like we are not trying. I often hear people commenting, ‘only if you would try harder’ without appreciating that someone who seems stationary is still trying their best to move within.
So, all of us, in our way and timing, like to make resolutions relevant to our life stories. We are inherently born with the desire to self-actualise, meet our potential, and aspire for that.
So why the new year? I understand this as a reset button that we want to use; to have a clean slate on which we can re-write our story. Making a resolution at the start of the year seems like a fantasy of having another chance to stand at the starting point of the marathon of life. We want to believe that if we had the opportunity to run again from the beginning, there would be something different; a new hope, a new promise of a chance to succeed contrary to the failure before. It’s almost like there is a wishful need to delete the remnants of the unfulfilled goals from the year early, and a new year seems like the light that will brighten and infuse relentless energy into the self to achieve new heights.
It is also about controlling outcomes by desiring and planning for a promising future. The challenge of keeping a resolution is that it could be more realistic. Why? The way this resolution is made in the new year seems like a grand gesture that expects this promise to be kept for the rest of the year. Yes, we can have goals that we want to work towards, but we don’t have to associate them with a new beginning that, for us, almost sounds like, ‘Can we have one more chance,’ rooted in the shame of prior failures that one has experienced. Inadvertently, it will set us up for failure and means that we do not accept or forgive ourselves for not meeting our goals. We cannot change until we accept ourselves, however, or wherever we are within us.
So start the new year by accepting yourself. Honour your struggles and strength in surviving this world day in and out. Aspire for goals, whatever that may be but start with first accepting that you have done the best you could for yourself, and from that moment, aim as high as you like to. If you want to stay steadfast in your actions and reach the milestone, reset your resolution as often as you need to. You don’t have to wait for a new year for that. Get up whenever you fall and remember that we have to drown a few times before we learn how to swim.
Let this year be about acceptance and resetting your resolutions as often as you like.

The writer is a BACP (British Association For Counselling and Psychotherapy) accredited individual and couple psychotherapist based in Islamabad. She can be reached at or her official website.

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