Why I’m a Bit Against Resolutions

I used to be very very pro-resolutions. A new year, a new start, a chance to correct some mistakes from the last year. But, I think the idea that we need to need to fundamentally change something about ourselves every year is a little bit ridiculous. “I need to be more adventurous,” “I need to exercise more,” “I need to eat better,” etc.

I think goal-oriented resolutions are often steeped in some form of self-hate or a societal ideal of what an adventurous, fit or healthy person does. Instead, this year I’ve decided to reflect and evaluate some of my relationships with the world around me that started changing in 2018 and I’d like to think about more in 2019.

This mud run was a great team building exercise at work and a really fun goal to work toward. An example of healthy exercise habits in my life.

My Relationship with food and exercise

I’m pretty sure my first ever magazine subscription was to Shape magazine when I was about 13 years old. Thirteen! At the time I was much chubbier than all of my friends, bullied and lonely. I remember thinking that their social behaviors were punishment for my inability to lose weight and look like them. So I started counting calories (again, at thirteen), doing Mauro Pilates for sixty minutes a day, and trying really hard to fit in with the other kids around me. I actually ended up losing about thirty pounds. And wouldn’t you know, by my eighth grade year I ended up getting voted the class’s Princess at our formal. In my mind, the weight loss was the reason people liked me – not the confidence that I had gained from the weight loss.

Now, eating healthy and exercising in and of themselves are amazing things to do for our bodies. They really are. But when the actions themselves are steeped in shame and punishment/reward mentalities, they become more harmful than good. The diet culture wants us to look a certain way to feel validated, and they use food and exercise as weapons in that war. Having been a fairly visible person my whole life (as an actor, model, youth leader, etc.) – I was very much of the mindset that being a leader meant looking a certain way and setting a certain example about discipline with food and exercise. So instead of saying that I’m going to eat healthier and exercise this year, I’m going to continue to build on the work I did last year in disassociating food and exercise from forms of self regulation.

An account I love to follow on Insta that discusses this is @annamaried.rd , who focuses on intuitive eating and listening to your body, and is run by a certified dietician. I think when we listen to what our body wants we can come naturally to a place where weight loss and healthy weight happen. We know when foods make us sick, or make us feel sluggish, or make us feel energized and ready for the day. When we listen to those cues, we can usually figure out what our body is craving from us.

A healthier idea about exercising is a natural extension of a healthier idea about food. If food is not something we use as punishment/reward, then exercising isn’t something we use to “make up for” our eating habits. It’s just something we do to feel stronger, get to know ourselves better, enhance our life and get more energy. For me personally, it’s something I do to have a place to watch my own progress as a healthier person and to stimulate the endorphins that make my depression more manageable daily.

My relationship with creativity

As a creative person who makes money off of being creative, it’s really easy to get into the mentality that I must be an expert at all times. Due to some negative messaging I received growing up, I have a really hard time showing anybody anything but perfection – especially in areas of my life where I want to succeed the most. As an actor, photographer, musician and writer being vulnerable enough to ask questions is something I find incredibly taxing. My hope for this year is to evaluate that reluctancy in the creative space because I think it prevents me from releasing the creativity in me.

For example, with acting I have a hard time just sitting in classes and absorbing because I’m usually surrounded by people who have been doing this longer than I have. I want to seem like I’m just naturally great at the job – which is a totally normal instinct. But for me, acting is only fun if it’s a place where I can funnel emotions and stories into something an audience can connect with and learn from. If I’m not allowing myself the freedom to experiment in how that gets done, then I’m not allowing my creativity to really grow. I’m just showing up to a class to check a box on a resume instead of letting myself play and have fun. I don’t want to set the goal of “I want to be a better actor” – I want to set the goal of “I want to have a relationship with acting that’s focused on the process and not the outcome.”

Especially in a creative setting, the lack of quantifiable outcomes makes resolutions murky at best and incredibly stifling at worst. My hopes in just taking a reflective attitude on my thoughts around creating is to allow a space not ruled by anxiety, but by freedom and choice. I personally need to be free from pressure to do my best work – otherwise I hide from the things I enjoy.

So what does all of this mean?

My main point here today is that resolutions aren’t the only way to approach your new year. Resolution mentality is often based on the idea that you need to fundamentally change something about yourself every year. I just don’t agree. I think you’re awesome, and that evaluating the things in your life that are holding you back and are bringing you stress is much more important than adding another to-do to your hectic life.

If you have areas of life where you’d like to learn and grow but experience anxiety when you take steps in that direction, examine those anxieties. Are you dealing with a fear of rejection, fear of failure? Are you doing this because you think it’s what you’re “supposed” to do or because it’s an area of your life you are passionate about? Honor yourself this year. That’s my goal for you. What do you think about that?