It is the first day of 2022, and people all over the world are beginning their new year’s resolutions. I am going to cut down my meat intake and try to be more mindful of how I spend my money. These resolutions essentially stem from an imagination of what we hope the next twelve months will look like, for ourselves, for others. The types of resolutions we make undoubtedly change as we get older, but regardless, there is always a tension between making them both aspirational and realistic.
By the same token, many people will avoid resolutions altogether to protect themselves from the feeling of failure that comes as a result of not being able to stick to or ‘complete’ whatever it is they have resolved to do.
The past two years have been particularly challenging, and despite the lingering feelings of stagnation after multiple lockdowns, politically, socially, environmentally, the world feels as though it is in turmoil. Many of us are beginning to understand and process issues that will most likely not be resolved within our lifetimes, and this can be extremely daunting.
It is therefore unsurprising that people choose to seek progress or fulfilment with goals that feel achievable. We look for things within our immediate surroundings that we can control: diet, exercise, our careers to some extent. This is not to undermine the need for personal goals, they are healthy, and they are motivating. But I have decided this year to change the way I approach these goals, and a fundamental part of this will come from accepting that a lot of worthwhile aspirations will not provide immediate gratification. Resolutions that are rooted in aesthetics or material possessions can come to fruition almost immediately if you want them to, but they so rarely provide the long-lasting sense of fulfilment that they promise.