Why I’m Sick of “Fresh Starts”

Around this time every year, it’s the same song and dance: “Are you ready to make a fresh start?” There are countless products, articles, and ads telling us it’s time to wipe the slate clean and rise from the ashes like a phoenix. They say this is the time for “reinvention” and becoming a “new you.” And this new version of you? She’s supposed to be better than the old one in every way, so forget about the old you. She’s so 2021.

These messages fill the magazines and websites we read, clog our social media feeds and take up every conceivable bit of ad space from now until spring. And you know what? I’m over it.

I’m A Work in Progress

The main reason I have a problem with the phrase “fresh start” is that it implies you need to scrap everything. It’s basically saying, “Your approach up until now has been totally wrong, but don’t worry! You can fix it by overhauling everything about your life!” Who has the time and energy for that? It messes with my head and my self-esteem to think I need an annual reboot from scratch. 

I will always consider myself a work in progress. Sometimes I get it right, sometimes I don’t. But either way, I always learn something. And those lessons I carry over from year to year. Dismissing them doesn’t serve me. Neither does condemning my actions of the past year. Instead, I like to take stock of how I’m feeling and where I’m at personally and professionally. If I see an area that needs an adjustment, I’ll make it, but I don’t punish myself.

Big Resolutions = Big Stress

As I mentioned last year, I prefer smaller New Year’s resolutions over large ones. I like to think of little adjustments I can make in my routine to better support my wellbeing, family, community and business. Giving myself a major assignment to kick off on January 1 just sets me up to fail. It also adds one more thing to my day when I’ve got enough going on. 

For example, if you decide to wake up vegan on the first of the year, the adjustment period will likely be harder than if you phased in this major change gradually with, for example, one vegan meal a day, or two vegan meals a week to begin with. New practices take time to become habits and when we pile it all on at once, we’re just creating more stress and anxiety for ourselves. Not exactly self-betterment, if you ask me.

I Don’t Need Anyone’s Approval

My past made me who I am and comparing myself to others is a waste of time. My past brought me to this moment in time, for better or for worse (depends on the day, right?) and the confidence getting older brings is hard-earned. I don’t need a report card from anyone to tell me who I should want to become in the new year because who I am now is someone a younger me probably couldn’t even dream of.

Trust me, there are elements of 2021 I would love to forget, but waking up one morning and declaring a “fresh start” won’t erase their impact on me and my life. Suppressing my feelings and emotions also isn’t good for my mental health. It’s not really possible to wipe the slate clean, so why try? I’ll take 2021 into 2022 just like I carried the dumpster fire that was 2020 into 2021. This last year shaped me in a lot of ways and it’s important to recognize those changes and what they mean for my present as well as my future. 

What do you think about New Year’s resolutions? Share your thoughts about making a fresh start each year in the comments.