The perfect New Year’s resolution doesn’t call for a gym

Imani Thaniel, Contributing Writer

Just about a month ago, millions of Americans vowed to New Year’s resolutions — promises to head to the gym every day at the crack of dawn or abide by a budget to stop frivolous spending. Others vowed to make new friends or unfollow their ex on Instagram so they can finally “move on.”

But, after New Year’s Day, does anyone really stick to their New Year’s resolutions? Usually, the answer is no. About 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail.

According to psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert, so many New Year’s resolutions fail for three reasons — they’re too vague, not framed with positivity and aren’t focused on the individual making them. Alpert said resolutions to find a new job or lose weight are inspired by “what you think others expect of you.”

The morning before New Year’s Eve, as I laid in bed scrolling through my news subscriptions, I came across a rather interesting article in The Washington Post that discussed a new way to make New Year’s resolutions.

And that is, to not make them at all.

Instead of a resolution, the writer suggested a New Year’s “first,” or doing something you haven’t done before. Whether that’s trying that restaurant around the block you’ve been eyeing, traveling somewhere you’ve never been or getting your first tattoo; it could even be a staycation and venturing into unexplored areas of your city.

No matter what you do, New Year’s “firsts” are designed to start off the new year with an intentional action, big or small. It’ll set up the year to come with positivity because of your willingness to follow through.

About three weeks ago, I took on the challenge of doing my own New Year’s “first.” Initially, I wanted to take myself to an expensive dinner — but then I remembered college doesn’t pay for itself. I also realized I wanted to love other people. As young adults and working adults, we need some extra love, even when our friends or family can’t be there for an hour-long vent session.

So I decided to mail handwritten letters of encouragement and appreciation to 10 of my closest friends. I hadn’t written letters since I was about 11.

I took the initiative to send letters to the people I am closest to, and I believe it set up my year to be a positive one. The act gave my friends something to physically look forward to and filled my year with new ideas.

It was about a week after I sent the letters that my friends received them. All at once, I got phone calls and FaceTime calls full of happy tears and virtual hugs. Their reactions made me feel good and let me know my New Year’s “first” was the right one. It reminded all of us we have friends we can depend on no matter how far apart we are.

That is the beauty of a New Year’s “firsts,” they don’t require gym memberships or bank statements. All you need is an idea backed by a positive motive.

2020 will be here before you know it. What’s your New Year’s first?

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