Broken Promises

If you’ve already broken your New Year’s resolution, don’t despair. You don’t need a holiday to change your life.

By guest author Melissa Kirsch from the New York Times.

The conversation hearts and foil-covered boxes of Russell Stover are large and in charge at my local pharmacy, and to them I say, “Welcome.” Unlike the rude arrival of Halloween candy in August, the retail gusto for Valentine’s Day in the first week of January invigorates me. It aligns with my own desire for the winter months to hurry up already. Bring on the egg-dyeing kits and the Mother’s Day cards. Let’s set our sights on spring.

Slow down. OK. It’s the first week of the new year. Let’s be in the moment. How many of us resolved to be more present in 2023? How many of us have broken that resolution? Depending on which gloomy study you read, somewhere between everyone and everyone and their brother will have broken their New Year’s resolutions by Feb. 14. How can we make this year different?

Resolve to always be resolving. That sounds terrible, but it’s actually sort of liberating. January might be, for you, a terrible time to begin eradicating your bad habits. Depending on where you live, the days may be shorter, darker and colder — precisely the worst conditions for getting up early and endeavoring a HIIT workout.

You don’t need a specific day of the year to start to change your life. You can resolve to do something differently — spend less money, be nicer, drink more water — anytime. And you can decide to do these things for an hour, a day, a week. Then see if you want to continue. Vowing to overhaul your life on Jan. 1 and trying to stick with the changes forever is a tall order.

When you do make a resolution, be it now or in six weeks or in July (or never — you’re perfect the way you are), remember that a resolution need not be punishing. It doesn’t have to involve curbing appetites or behaviors unless you want it to. You can resolve to reward yourself more. You can resolve to take more naps. And the resolution doesn’t need to be big. It can be small and boring and meaningful only to you.

The real reason I like to Always Be Resolving is that it reminds me there’s always a clean slate. There’s always a day or month or year ahead of me with no mistakes in it. Right now, there’s the calendar year of 2023, and that offers a tidy organizing principle. But there’s a year between March 9ths too, a year between Aug. 23rds. There’s the blank canvas of next Tuesday. How will you fill it?