Tagged With new year’s resolutions

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I am, to be clear, a believer in the power of putting arbitrary constraints on yourself in order to achieve something. It's why I make to-do lists (and write "make to-do list" at the top of the list, for an immediate hit of accomplishment), why I demand a deadline even when writing an evergreen story, and why I agree self-improvement doesn't just manifest itself out of thin air without a little bit of nudge from an app or a calendar or some sort of Black Mirror drone with axes for fingers that literally chases you out of bed to start your morning run.

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If you partied all the way through December, Dry January can be a refreshing change. You get to enjoy staying in, sleeping better, and saving money, especially if you can rope your friends in so they aren’t always inviting you to drink-y nights out.

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I know, I know. You don’t even want to make resolutions for yourself let alone with your kids. If you approach it the right way, though, and when your kids are at the best ages (5-12 years old seems to be the sweet spot for starting this), you can set them up for good goal-setting habits in the future.

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Everyone wants to hijack your January. Most people want you to stop drinking for the month, on the premise you’ve been overdoing it over the holidays and need to dry out. Others think it’s time to go vegan. I’m sure someone you know is trying to convince you to go to hot yoga every day of January to sweat out “the toxins”. I am usually opposed to all forms of New Year’s resolutions; Lifehacker’s devoted to making changes every day of the year. But one resolution I’m looking forward to anxiously is my tradition of a Spend-Free January. Hear me out.

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The start of a new year is, of course, the perfect time for a fresh start. There's the metaphorical power, plus the numerical ease of counting days and months of success from Jan 1. But balanced against the celebratory excess and indulgence of the holiday season, New Year's resolutions can, sadly, tend towards abstinence.

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Most of us make resolutions to improve only ourselves: We vow to cut out sugar, work out three days a week, dust off the resume and start the job hunt for real. In general, resolutions tend to be very me-focused -- willpower, weight loss, self-care.

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Just as important as setting New Year's resolutions is figuring out how we reach them, and not getting so bogged down in work that we forget to take care of ourselves. On the podcast Call Your Girlfriend, hosted by the journalist Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow, co-founder of Tech Lady Mafia, human rights technologist Sabrina Hersi Issa advises scheduling a Personal Inventory Day each month as a way to regularly take stock of where your time is going.

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I don't know about you, but I've heard a lot of people say that they want to quit some particularly addictive aspect of modern technology in 2018. Maybe you want to delete Candy Crush from your phone once and for all. Maybe you only want to check Twitter once a day. Maybe you want to stop hate-reading a feed or forum, maybe you want to quit Instagram-stalking your ex and maybe you just want to spend more time interacting with something besides a screen.

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New Year's resolutions are usually centred around a big aspirational goal: I'll work out every day, I'll write a book, I'll never eat junk food. But most of us fail at our resolutions. One problem is that we're setting our goals too high. If you want to reach a huge goal, first you have to set a small one.

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January 1, 2018 is no different than December 31, 2017. You probably woke up with big plans to "really make some changes this year," but you know what? It's not going to work. Why? Because you've already decided that waiting until the new year to become the new and improved you is the right course of action.

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"Self-improvement" is a tricky framework for resolutions. We take the phrase for granted, but what is it really saying? That changing a lifestyle habit improves your very self? That implies moral value to your choices, labelling some habits intrinsically "good" and others "bad". This ends up at the idea that your lifestyle choices affect your inherent worth and value as a person. And honestly, that sucks.