Image is of a beige 2022 day planner with a black pen on top. The planner sits on a dark brown wooden table. This image represents resolutions and habit formation in 2022.

2022 Resolutions / Image via Clay Banks on Unsplash

As January nears its end, I can’t help but reflect on the month and how well I have followed my New Year’s resolutions.

My resolutions for 2022 were pretty typical for me. I wanted to go to the gym five times a week, eat super healthy, journal more, hike once a week, identify plants, knit a scarf, read at least two books a month, and wake up at 6am everyday. 

Now that I am typing them all out, I can see these resolutions have unreasonably high expectations.

But this is how I have set myself up—with a slew of crazy goals requiring a complete lifestyle change. I cannot attain them immediately, which results in thinking, once again, the year is a failure.

Better luck next time. 

This intense line of thought is called catastrophic thinking, in which a person believes things are worse than they actually are. I often have these thoughts when it concerns self-improvement.

The thing is, making new, lasting behavior changes in your life is hard. Another common resolution—quitting smoking—is found to be extremely difficult even to those who know the lethal risks of smoking and have been told by a doctor to quit. 

This difficulty to alter a habit or create a new one is due, in part, by the fact that life is complicated. Resolutions don’t account for all the hardships or changes that may be thrown at you. 

For example, gyms were closed for the first three weeks of January, so that halted my goal to go to the gym five times a week. I also had a busy month back at school and had to adjust to a whole new routine, which is difficult to add a bunch of new behaviors to. My environment has been most suited to the way I have always done things before. 

Just because I could not meet my unreasonable expectations for myself in one month does not mean that 2022 is a write-off. I did attain some of my goals.

I made it out to hike twice and on both those times I went and identified plants. I also knitted, not a scarf, but a wonky cloth-type thing. I went for a run.

Every week, bit by bit, I’m trying. That’s an important first step.

I’m writing this for myself, and for others who have started off 2022 with big dreams for themselves and feel like they have failed already: don’t write off 2022. Take each day as it comes. Some days you might meet your goals and some days you might not. You are exactly where you are now, and there is nothing wrong with that. 

If you, like me, are struggling to stick with some resolutions you really want to accomplish this year, I offer advice from James Clear, American author of the book Atomic Habits. Clear outlines five strategies to use to build new habits and stick to them: begin with a small and attainable habit, very gradually build up this habit overtime, divide bigger habit goals into bite-sized chunks, if you miss a goal that week jump back on track as soon as you can, and most importantly, be patient with yourself.

For more information that is concisely summarized check out his website or Clear’s book Atomic Habits. There are also a ton of online resources and apps that are designed to help you attain your goals reasonably.

Editor

Sabrina is a fifth-year Psychology and Creative Writing student. Her poem "They Are Waiting" won last year's Portent Prize and was featured in Portal's 2021 Magazine. She loves exploring Vancouver Island, telling people about the UFO Landing Pad in her hometown, and is a wannabe free diver. In her last year of schooling she has realized just how much potential there is in being a student at VIU.

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