You Can Restart Anytime: Expectations of New Year’s Resolutions vs. Reality

Celia Zevon
Celia Zevon

The new year brings intentions of resetting, creating goals, and making the most of this fresh start. Often, we find ourselves adopting new habits, exploring unfamiliar routines, and working towards the “best” version of ourselves. However, this exciting time of renewal and change can often come with heightened expectations. It’s easy to get consumed with ideas of perfection and progress while consistently placing pressure on ourselves. We can become oblivious to our body’s physical and mental cues telling us to slow down. Expectations around our resolutions and goals take up space, leaving little room for the reality of mistakes, patience, and compassion.

So, how do I reset while also being mindful of my emotions? Awareness is key. Stay in tune with your mind and body, be aware of what you’re digitally consuming, and notice your growth.

Here are some reminders for working towards your goals in the new year:

  • Shift the way you look at progress. Progress is not linear. We know you’ve heard it before, but it’s true! You will experience ups and downs throughout your journey, and that’s okay. Treat every moment as an opportunity to learn and grow. Feeling difficult emotions is part of the process and will only make you stronger. Keep this perspective in mind, especially during potentially difficult times.

  • Be realistic — change doesn’t happen overnight. Setting goals on Jan. 1 does not mean you will achieve them by Jan. 2; It takes time to accomplish them and cultivate new habits. Be realistic and try not to let the inability to see change impact your journey. Take it moment by moment and recognize that every step, even the small ones, is a success.

  • You can restart anytime. Everyone is different. We all run on a different timeline. If the new year is not an ideal time to restart because you are experiencing burnout from the holidays, need rest, or feel sick, that’s okay. Every month, day, and hour is a chance to restart and embark on a new beginning. Remember, you are in charge of your own timeline.

  • Say goodbye to comparison. During this time of year, we’re surrounded by others also going after their goals. While this can be motivating, it also fosters the ideal environment for comparison. Someone you follow may share a picture at the gym one morning while you’re still in bed. Or, a friend may tell you they’re taking classes to learn a new hobby, but you’re unable to afford or find the time for a similar course. We’re all on different paths, and comparison can be detrimental to our individual progress. If you find yourself stuck down a comparison rabbit hole, try shifting your focus to your own accomplishments and leave the comparison back in 2023.

  • Prioritize celebrating yourself. Celebrate your growth with every opportunity you can. Chances are you’ve grown more than you may realize. Try writing down moments you’re proud of before going to sleep, thinking of goals you’ve accomplished while making coffee, or repeating affirmations while getting ready for the day. Appreciating even the tiny wins encourages gratitude and self-love. Both of which are motivating when chasing after your goals. 

Resetting and creating goals in the new year is an exciting time. We forgive ourselves for what we’ve done in the past and choose to move forward while challenging ourselves in new ways. However, also be aware of the expectations and pressures your resolutions put on yourself, and be practical when thinking about the reality of progress and change. Leave comparison in 2023 and focus on celebrating you. This is your year!