It’s 2020! Time to finally hit the gym, start meditating, get back into art — wait. Stop and think. If while reading that sentence, you immediately started to think something along the lines of “Ugh, I hate the New Year’s resolution people,” or “That’s so annoying. If you want to change, you’d change before January,” or “Yeah right, you won’t make it to February,” then you are part of the problem, and you should make it your New Year’s resolution to stop judging people.
Seriously, change is difficult, and especially when it comes to things like diet or exercise, it can be hard to find the time and extra energy to change your habits when you’re in the middle of working on several big projects or visiting your family whose favorite food is carbs. People tend to try to change habits around the new year because they’ve gotten a small breather from the everyday structure of their lives, so when it’s time to jump back in, it’s a lot easier to start new healthier habits.
Everyone has different priorities, so for some, this might look like starting the gym every other day once they fly back home, and for others, it could be getting into the habit of sketching and painting every day after a certain class or after work. Either way, there’s a difference between starting up something new while your life will go through routine changes regardless — like during the new year — and starting up something new on a random Tuesday in the middle of a difficult semester. If you’re a person that can start something on a Tuesday, great. Not everyone is. Some people have less time and resources than others and you shouldn’t give those people any flak for waiting a month or two when they can put effort into their goals alongside someone else for support.
Of course, it’s rational to say self-improvement should be an on-going process. It’s also completely logical to say someone shouldn’t wait until the new year to be a better person if they are currently indulging in actions that hurt themselves or others directly. But New Year’s resolutions are usually less focused on being a bare minimum decent human being and more focused on taking steps to becoming your ideal version of yourself. So next time you see a new person at your gym, yoga studio, library, volunteer organization or anywhere else people might end up when 2020 starts, try encouraging them to hang in there instead of criticizing them as if they are an imposter in public space.
Photo: K. Sikkema