If You Make A New Year’s Resolution, Make It One That Matters

Two years ago, in 2018, I succeeded at my New Year’s Resolution. I remember that last year I didn’t make one, but two years ago was the first time I succeeded, and it was such an honest and life-changing resolution that I didn’t need to make one. This year, if I make a resolution, I’ll likely just continue on the trend from my two years ago, and connect that vulnerability with my faith.

I resolved to be more vulnerable. I took incremental and daily efforts to reveal painful life details to friends and loved ones about my childhood and experiences. Every day, I worked a little more towards becoming a more vulnerable person instead of a stoic person that didn’t reveal emotions. I became open and honest about when I was suffering and not doing well, which is a lot more often than I’d like to admit.

And each day that I put about an effort towards my resolution, it was a struggle. But it was a manageable and productive struggle. I will always remember the time, 3:44 a.m. on October 5, 2017, when I sent a letter to my Cross Country team that allowed me to opened up about traumatic struggles my family went through when I went through as a kid — and as this is still the Internet, I can’t go into detail about the contents of that article. My index finger hovered over the “enter” button on my computer for fifteen minutes, wondering whether the best course of action was to delete the whole letter entirely or send it.

On a whim, against the impulses of everything telling me not to send it and keep those struggles hidden, I hit the button. And my entire life changed for the better. My Cross Country team texted, hugged, and praised me with unconditional support. I cried most of the next day, and at that moment I was at peace and felt like, finally for a moment, I had nothing left to hide.

To this day, I felt like it was the best decision I’ve ever made. My decision was a factor in setting off some of my teammates’ vulnerability in opening up about their own experiences and things they were struggling with, whether that was losing someone close to them or a mental health struggle they were battling.

That decision helped set off a chain of events that allowed me to share the letter with more people, and every day I either shared the letter with another friend I trusted or talked more about it and how I was feeling about having all of the most personal and painful details about myself and family out there.

Previous years included resolutions like everyone else, like becoming more fit or getting better grades. I forgot about those resolutions within a week or two. I can’t even tell you what my New Year’s Resolutions were in 2017, 2016, or 2015.

I’ve read a lot of articles urging readers that we don’t have to make New Year’s Resolutions because we’re enough as we are now. And I agree. I don’t think you should make a New Year’s Resolution like going to the gym or getting better grades because you are enough right now — and if you’re going to make one, make one that’ll help you grow, not change. Make a resolution a stepping stone to double down on efforts you’ve already been taking to improve.

Part of why it was so impactful for me was because I had already been working on it before I made a resolution — a lot. In fact, how I reflected on the success of my days was how vulnerable I was able to be. It became a deeply engrained, part of my life and my identity. It was my biggest source of pride when I thought about the things I was most grateful for — because my strength in being vulnerable made me more at peace than anything else in my life.

My 2018 resolution was meaningful, impactful, and above all, it mattered, because it was a lot more than a New Year’s Resolution.

You’re going to wake up on January 1, 2020 the same person you were before. A resolution isn’t going to completely change or overhaul your life, and you shouldn’t expect it to. A resolution is meant to build upon and double down on something great in your life that you’re already doing. A New Year’s Resolution matters when it acknowledges your strengths and things you’re already doing great, and if you’re having trouble searching for that thing, keep looking. Ask the people you love if you need help.

No you’re not perfect. No one is. But you’re doing a lot of things well, and a lot of things right. And you shouldn’t make a resolution that denies the fact that you are enough.

So in 2020, make a resolution that builds on something you’ve already been working on. Make a resolution that matters.

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