OPINION: A Reflection on Resolutions


Hailey Stessman

Viewing the new year through the lens of adapting to one’s surroundings can lessen the pressure tied to resolutions. Graphic by Hailey Stessman/The Gateway

“The decade is still fresh and young. There is so much time for self-growth and improvement. Don’t drag yourself down if you fail to meditate every morning or fail to stick to a diet or fail to reach a certain number of books read by the end of the year. I know it’s hard, I’m not denying that. However, I invite you to join me by setting an intention for yourself every morning, whether it be by being more present or strong or welcoming. Repeat it to yourself throughout the day.

Who knows where you’ll end up in the next 12 months. Anything is possible.”

Oh, past Hailey, if only you knew.

In my article “OPINION: I Let Go of ‘Resolutions’ For the New Year” from the beginning of last year, excerpted above, I expressed my distaste for the tradition of setting traditions at the mark of each new year. I was not particularly fond of the restricting nature of establishing specific goals regarding diet or fitness that would ultimately result in me brooding over the lack of my progress in the later months. As a solution, I decided I would enter the new decade with a different mindset by focusing on intent rather than trying to achieve unattainable and pristine standards:

Live life with the intention of being kind, gentle, mindful, grateful, and understanding.

Now, enter the chaos that was 2020.

When reflecting on my physical and mental state in relation to my “intent” from the previous year, there’s not much I can say. With the subsequent tragedies and conflicts that ensued across the globe, the energy and motivation to better myself was nonexistent. It was difficult to practice mindfulness and be kinder to oneself when the world was crumbling at our feet. Taking the time and dedicating a space to hone in on my intentions was the least of my worries. I simply was trying to survive. Once I had suffered with a case of COVID-19 in October and witnessed our government, and even some of my peers, turn their backs on the health and safety of its civilians knowing that it would most likely continue well into the next year, I lost all hope on attempting to make a comeback on my initial intentions.

Then, something changed.

As the threshold into 2021 slowly inched its way nearer, I read The Gateway’s Digital Editor Claire Redinger’s piece “OPINION: I resolve to keep making New Year’s resolutions” which offered a fresh new perspective on the impacts of resolutions:

“New Year’s is a natural pause in our busy lives—the only pause that some people may truly get all year…You’re not quitting, you’re adapting.”

For so long I had perceived resolutions through a“fail-or-win” mindset. Even with my new focus on intentions rather than goals, it was difficult to not get discouraged when the results weren’t immediate. The idea of adapting, rather than ticking off boxes on a list, to become the best version of yourself creates a long term framework that eases the pressure of achieving greatness in the span of twelve months.

So, what have I planned for this year? Have I set any intentions or resolutions?

Short answer? No. The long answer is that this year I am accepting that everything is temporary. Fears, anxieties, doubts; all of it is temporary. I am on this journey towards becoming a version of myself that is whole, content and fulfilled. But I will not meet that Hailey after completing a set of steps or passing through a sequence of phases. Rather, I will adapt and grow into her over time.

But who knows; a lot can change in twelve months.