Maternal Mental Health Research Collaborative
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10 Good Reasons Not to Set New Year’s Resolutions


It seems like every new year it’s the same thing. January arrives and we’re all told that we’re not good enough.

That now is the time to commit to a new diet plan. Or set lengthy lists of goals based on things you don’t like about yourself and think need to change. Maybe it’s a habit you’re sick of. Or something you want to start. It could be that you look in the mirror and cringe at what you see. We resolve to make commitments and promises to ourselves to change – to be better or different. We’re convinced that if we’re good, and can keep these resolutions, we’ll be happy. We’ll make the cut.

So I want to try something different this new year. I’m here to tell you that you’re enough. Everything that you are is more than enough and you don’t have to change. Not one single part of you is bad, or unworthy. Just being who you are is what makes you wonderful, beautiful and powerful. Your flaws and imperfections are what make you human and you can celebrate them.

Now I know what you’re thinking. The new year means a fresh start and it’s the perfect opportunity kick things into high gear, so why waste it. Well, because most new year’s resolutions are about changing our external selves in an effort to become more lovable, acceptable or worthy. So before you think about making your list for the new year, here are these ten reasons not to set resolutions this January.

1. You Survived the Holidays

First of all, you’ve just made it through a marathon of holiday celebrations and commitments. You’re tired, Mama, and that’s okay. So don’t try to start something new or different when you’re exhausted. Change of any kind, whether it’s good or bad, is added stress on your mind and body. Get through January first and then re-evaluate. There’s a whole year ahead of you.

2. You Don’t Need to Change

While setting goals and changing directions can be positive, don’t do it because of external pressure to change. You don’t need to change. It’s easy to get caught up in the hype of setting lists of lengthy resolutions, joining fitness challenges, or starting fancy diets, but you don’t need these. So take the time to evaluate why you think you need to change and then act accordingly.

3. You Have Enough on Your Plate

Being a mom isn’t an easy job. Between taking care of your kids, the house, your partner, and maybe a job you’re already running at full stream. Don’t add another “should” to your list of things to do. It’s just another opportunity to compare yourself to others and measure your worth based on external pressures.

4. You Set Yourself Up for Failure

If you’re not really committed to change and doing something because it’s the thing to do in January, you’re going to fail. While failure isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can just be one more reason to think of yourself as unworthy or not good enough. And we both know there’s already enough of that negative talk in your head.

5. You Don’t Need to Be Fixed

A lot of new year’s resolutions imply that you’re broken and need to be fixed. That you can resolve your way to self-love and happiness. It’s simply not true. You don’t need to be fixed. You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Now is the time to focus on accepting yourself, including all the messy, broken parts.

6. You Aren’t Lacking Anything

New year’s resolutions can come from a false belief that you lack something. That you’re not enough. And by setting resolutions, you’re accepting the idea that if you work hard enough you’ll be able to make up for your perceived inadequacies. If you don’t work hard enough, you fail, which you then use as evidence as to why you’re not good or worthy. And then the cycle repeats itself.

7. You Are Always Worthy

Coming to a place of self-acceptance and love for yourself can’t be based on trying to fix what you think is broken. Your worthiness is inherent and part of simply being human. You’re always deserving of respect, dignity and kindness. Most of all, you can’t rely on external factors or achievements to decide whether you can or should love yourself. If we listen to the media and popular culture there will always something about that we must fix before we’re worthy and this just isn’t true.

8. You Have Other Things to Do

There are already too many other important things going on that you’re trying to manage. Committing to see friends more often or maybe trying to get out of the house alone once a week are more important that keeping your resolutions. You have other things to do to take care of yourself and keep yourself healthy.

9. You Can’t Buy Your Way to Happiness

Have you noticed that most new year’s resolutions usually require you to buy something in order to achieve them? It could be a gym membership or an investment in protein shakes and supplements. Maybe it’s certain books, programs or courses that promise to change your life. True happiness that comes from a place of acceptance and peace with yourself just as you are can’t be bought. Your happiness isn’t a commodity.

10. You Need to Give Yourself a Break

There’s always a reason to commit to try to change yourself. Maybe it’s a seasonal shift or the kids are going back to school. It could be that you’re a few months postpartum and trying to make sense of your new life and role as a mom. Give yourself a break and take time to breathe. While there’s no doubt that self-directed change can be good, positive and wonderful, it needs to be when you’re ready. Don’t try to force yourself into something that you don’t really want.

Finally, remember that your job this new year should be to commit to practicing unconditional self-love and acceptance. Because if you genuinely want to commit to change and improvement in your life, you’re going to have more success if you’re not trying to fix something that isn’t broken. So challenge yourself this new year to skip the hype about resolutions and focus on what you need to make this year (or maybe this month, week or even just today) good.

Shannon Hennig is the Program Director of the Maternal Mental Health Research Collaborative.