Don’t Beat Yourself Up If You Already Broke Your New Year’s Resolution

Can we all just admit that New Year’s resolutions are pretty much the worst, and that we’re too hung over on January 1st to implement them anyway? I am all for changing something you want to change about yourself, but why start on the most hungover day of the whole year?

Who’s idea was this anyway? Why do we get totally hammered on champagne one night, and then resolve to change our lives the very next day? Where does this tradition come from? In search of an answer, I scoured the Internet for hours (okay, fine, I wikipedia-ed it and it was only 10 minutes) and found out that resolutions at the start of the new year go all the way back to Ancient Babylonia. They would promise each year to return borrowed objects and repay their debt. (I guess the Babylonians went to university too). That means that people have been trying to do this for thousands and thousands of years. Other origins include the medieval “peacock” vow, where knights would pledge their commitment to chivalry. I’m sure the common thread here is that a lot of people have broken their resolutions throughout history. If you’ve broken yours, you’re definitely not the first. There is some ancient Babylonian who probably did the same, only back then the penalties were probably a lot harsher. The point that I’m trying to make is, give yourself a break.

I’ve already broken mine. It was to stop mentally beating the shit out of myself this year. I started off great the morning of January 1st, (likely because I slept till 2) but by that night, I’d yelled at myself for doing something imperfect that no one cared about or was paying attention to anyway. On January 2nd, I beat the shit out of myself for not being good at not beating the shit out of myself. On January 3rd, I beat the shit out myself for beating the shit out of myself for not being good at not beating the shit out of myself. January 4th repeat—does this sound like you? Time for a reboot.

I wish that this could be a Cosmopolitan article where I act like I’m the authority on this, and give you heaping amounts of sassy advice on how to not do this, but then I’d be a huge hypocrite, so there will be no how-to in this article with lots of GIFs. I am the queen of falling off the wagon, and then getting unreasonably angry at myself about it.

Sometimes I think there’s this hyperactive hamster on steroids who lives in my brain running on a wheel who stop yelling at me for very simple things. Like making a decision, what to eat for dinner, what to wear, where to go, who to hang out with. Earlier this year, when I needed to check off the organ donor box at the DMV, I actually spent an extra hour there trying to decide whether or not it made me a good or bad person if I did or did not donate my organs. I only became an organ donor because I was afraid that the people behind the counter would judge me, and then I spent the rest of the day beating myself up because the reason behind my organ donation was not genuine enough. That was the moment I decided, “Die hamster, die.” So even though he isn’t quite dead yet, I’m not going to give up just because I’ve spent the first four days of the New Year beating myself up about beating myself up. I’m just going to wake up today, tomorrow, and the next day and try again.

So you broke your New Year’s resolution seven days into the new year. So what? You ate some sugar, you didn’t go to the gym, you forgot to call your mother every other day, you aren’t being the confident person you said you’d be, you’re not on top of your shit at work, you’re not being an amazing friend like you said you’d be, and you forgot to go to yoga for two days in a row even though you said you would. Here are some of the things I tell myself when I freak out:

It’s the first world, you’re fine, and your life isn’t over because you can’t be this perfect being that probably doesn’t exist anyway.

Don’t just give up, crawl back into bed, and write off the whole year. We’re only one week in. Start again the next day. Start again when you catch yourself in the middle of the day. Do this even when you’re 44 weeks in. You don’t suck. You’re not a terrible human because you dropped a new year’s resolution and didn’t solve world hunger today. Be nice to yourself.


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