Read this if you don’t buy into New Year’s Resolutions but feel motivated to make some changes this time of year.
At any given time you are a work in progress of the absolute best version of yourself; fulfilling or not fulfilling resolutions made on a somewhat arbitrary date isn’t indicative of the choices that you make everyday that are a reflection of who you are and what you believe.
Why New Year’s Resolutions are irrelevant:
People assume that the new year will magically encourage them make big life changes and that somehow a change in the calendar will result a change in themselves. There are few things that infuriate me more this time of year than hearing someone acknowledge that they need to develop a good habit/change a bad habit but are putting it off until the new year. Spoiler alert: Other than having fewer hours of sunlight nothing will change.
Most resolutions are created out of existing disappointment, failure, and shortcomings rather than passion, beliefs, or long term goals. In 2015, almost 70% of Americans had some variation of "lose weight" or "get healthy" as their resolution, which likely comes from some sort of unhappiness about their current physical appearance. Rarely is a resolution like that a reflection of an internal desire to make a life long change but driven by external pressures that come from disappointment and negativity. In some cases, if your resolutions are driven by disappointment just the act of making a goal and a plan gives you enough instant gratification to feel better about yourself… which means you’re less likely to see your plan through.
I am so incredibly grateful that what was important to me this time last year is no longer important to me. In fact, the things that were important to me six months ago aren’t relevant anymore and priorities continue to evolve. However, most resolutions don’t leave room for evolution. It’s unreasonable to expect that what you’re striving for now will be exactly the same a few months from now. Why aren’t seasonal resolutions more popular?
Since most resolutions aren’t created with evolving priorities in mind, they leave little room for error. About 80% of people break their resolutions by the second week of February and 9% of people see their resolutions through the end of the year. If your resolution is to make your bed every morning does that mean that if you forget on day 3 you’re out of the running? Resolutions can sometimes feel like a pass-fail test you’re not ready for.
For those with the resolve to continue to better themselves, not just at the turn of the year but every day, it’s worth acknowledging and accepting that you’ll likely never feel the gratification associated with New Year's Resolutions. You continue to change and redefine what success means based on the direction you'd like to move your life in, not a destination determined at an arbitrary time.
Becoming a conscientious consumer
That said, thanks to the social constructs we’ve created, this is a great time for reflection and I use it as an opportunity to reevaluate my choices. Due to multiple unrelated experiences I’ve recently gone off the deep end on understanding what it means to become an educated consumer.
It started nearly a year ago when I “purged” my apartment after watching Minimalism (yes, very cliche) and felt an enormous sense of relief. I don’t consider myself a hoarder or materialistic yet I had accumulated so much useless crap! That was lesson #1 on how powerful subconscious consumption can be.
The things we buy, like the company we keep, says a lot about what we value.
That lesson, coupled with my biggest pet peeves: laziness and wastefulness (time, money, food, energy, resources, seriously wasting anything drives me nuts), has motivated me to become more educated and conscience about my consumption habits.
I realized that because we prioritize and value convenience so much we use it as an excuse to forgive wasteful behavior. So, I've thought about some of the areas in my life I can improve on to live a more sustainable lifestyle.
Plastic - Specifically water bottles, bags, cutlery. I’m already that weirdo who carries a reusable bottle with me everywhere but there are still other small changes I could make. Such as using these instead of Ziploc bags! Or figuring out the best way to use soap, shampoo, conditioner in an environmentally friendly way. More suggestions welcome!
Feminine Hygiene - This is about girl stuff so if that makes you uncomfortable skip right along! After having a couple lady product companies as clients I dove deep into the world of reusable fem hygiene. After doing far more research than I’ll care to admit I am fully onboard THINX and Ruby Cup products. I think over sharing on the internet is tacky so I won’t go into my experience using them but I highly recommend both brands to anyone looking for alternative solutions to feminine hygiene! Happy to answer any specific questions you might have. Not so fun fact: Close to 20 billion sanitary napkins, tampons and applicators are dumped into North American landfills every year.
Fashion - If you know me at all then you know how unimportant fashion is in my life. That said, after my closet purge last year I realized whether I consider myself “fashionable” or not the things I own are direct consequence of the choices I make. This past year I tried to adopt a habit of not making a purchase without “upcylcing” something I already own (on a website like this). This made me think twice about whether I actually wanted to buy something and made me smarter about my choices. I understand this will always be the less than perfect but hopefully with more brands like Zero Waste Daniel, Everlane, Girlfriend Collective and Mejuri it will be easier and more accessible for joe-schmoes like myself to make this a habit.
Meat - I only eat poultry and fish but given all the health and environmental impacts of animal products I’m going to start participating in Meatless Mondays. Mostly because it’s catchy and easy to remember. If it sticks I might expand it to include more days of the week. FACT: If everyone in the U.S ate no meat or cheese just one day a week, it would be like taking 7.6 million cars off the road.
I can’t call these New Year's Resolutions because they aren’t specific actions that I’ll be tracking and some of these aren’t new to my life. But I'm hoping that they will help instill a new sense of awareness in me.
I know that I will never have a wardrobe that’s 100% ethically sourced because I’m not Emma Watson and I’ll probably have to use a tampon again at some point in my life. I’ll probably slip up and have meat on a Monday and I might even do it intentionally. I also know that I will not single handedly impact the plastic consumption in the world and that these decisions will not save that world.
However, I'm hoping that actively make these small decisions will remind me of how much choice I have and how much I do passively out of convenience and lack of awareness. There are so many things that we do by "default" and on auto pilot that it's worth using this time of year to make sure we're making active decisions that are reflections of what we believe.
If nothing else these are the choices that I'm hoping will instilling another layer of discipline and mindfulness in areas of my life that I was previously consuming mindlessly.
If you read this all the way through, first of all thank you! Secondly, I'd love to hear from you. Agree, disagree, or just acknowledgement of having read this would be wonderful. If nothing else at least you won't have mindlessly read this post ;)