Hi, I’m an internationally bestselling self-help guru and I have a secret to share with you in advance of everyone’s favourite arbitrary self-improvement benchmark, Jan. 1. Are you ready? Here goes:
THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU.
Bold, I know. But it’s true! And it’s exactly why the best New Year’s resolution – if you insist on making one – is to accept yourself for who you are, not to beat yourself up over what you’re not (e.g., thin enough, rich enough, stylish enough, in-a-relationship-enough). You’ll get more out of 2018 by cultivating confidence and swagger than by enumerating all the ways in which you’re deficient – by your own impossibly high standards or anyone else’s.
Look, I’m all about goals. I wrote a whole book about that last year called Get Your Sh*t Together; it’s very useful, you should check it out. But what I can’t abide is unnecessary change, peer pressure and smoothies. Can we just stop it with yogurt-based solutions to life’s great dilemmas? Thank you.
And the thing is, New Year’s resolutions are often all about unnecessary change that we feel pressured to make just because that’s what everyone else is doing. In my new book, You Do You, I refer to this practice as “The Tyranny of Just Because.” It’s a line of reasoning I’ve railed against since I was a kid. When my parents desperately needed me to take no for an answer and I wouldn’t stop asking “why?”, they resorted to the time-honoured “Just … because!” Now, as an adult, I’m constantly reminding myself (and other people – it’s an occupational hazard of being a guru) that just because is not a good enough answer or reason for doing anything.
Nor is it a good idea to shake up your diet, fitness regimen (or if you’re me – lack thereof), career path or personal life just because that’s what other people have made it clear over the course of the past godforsaken year that they expect it from you. Such as, Yes Mom, I understand you took up knitting for the sole purpose of frocking your unborn grandchildren in toasty, fashionable scarves. I’ll be sure to “resolve” the inconsistencies in my Tinder profile that clearly prevented me from meeting your Grandbaby Daddy in 2017. Perhaps an all-smoothie diet will do the trick.
Finally, New Year’s resolutions are an oxymoron (another thing I can’t abide) in that they are perennially trendy. I guarantee you nine out of 10 magazines on newsstands on Jan. 1 will be touting some version of “Five Steps to a New You!” What none of them offer in those glossy spreads is a version of “What the hell happened last year? If you were really committed to [insert resolution here], you wouldn’t need these manipulative headlines any more!”
Enough is enough.
What if, this New Year, the only thing you pledged to do was embrace the Old You? To acknowledge your flaws, accept that they’re unlikely to change and start working with them instead of against them? To be at peace with your personality, quirky or prickly though it may be? To recognize your achievements separate from any metric imposed by your peers, your parents or that guy who graduated a year behind you and invented bitcoin?
For example, I possess a number of qualities that some would consider “flaws.” I’m an unremitting pessimist; I’ve made several unconventional lifestyle choices (among them, not giving anyone any grandchildren); and I have a habit of wandering onto private property and taking selfies in the neighbours’ nativity scene. So what? I do me.
And this year, you can do you. Old You, that is.
Forget about making drastic changes to your day-to-day and focus on making the best of what’s already there. And above all, focus on what makes you happy. If you really want to do a juice cleanse or take up Pilates, great. Have fun! But if you’re only doing it because you’ve been conditioned to believe that the month of January signals An End to Everything You Ever Were and the Beginning of a New You, then maybe slow your roll. Especially if you’ve seen this one before and you know that by March 1, you’ll have gone down two sizes and back up again – and all you’ll have really lost was $200 on that low-cal meal plan or high-octane Brazilian Butt Boot Camp.
What’s so wrong with those extra two sizes? Or with spending an hour a day sleeping in or playing with your dog rather than sweating your way toward a “resolution” borne of guilt, shame or cultural conditioning?
Again, I’m not saying there isn’t room for improvement in your life – I am the author of three self-improvement manuals, after all. I’m just saying that the holiday season is stressful enough without adding Arbitrary Resolution Season hard on its heels. And that if you simply must resolve to do anything, perhaps you should consider loving yourself just the way you are.
After all, there’s nothing wrong with you, so it ought to be an easy resolution to keep.
See what I did there?