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Reframing New Year’s Resolutions: A Conversation

Posted on: 2/5/2021
Posted by: Maggie

New Year resolutions
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

I’m so excited for this month’s blog entry, which is centered around New Year’s resolutions. I got to sit down and talk with Morgan, who sheds some light on the topic. Her insight on the topic is eye opening, while also being equally adaptable to each of our own individual lives. As we put 2020 behind us, this is a conversation you don’t want to miss.

Maggie: Hi Morgan! Thank you for taking the time to chat with me today. Let’s get right into it! Tell us a bit about yourself.

Morgan: Hi Maggie, so I’m a 25-year-old Research Coordinator 1. I’m an introvert who enjoys time by myself. Outside of work I ride horses, which has been something I’ve always loved. I was bit by the bug early on because both my mom and aunt love horses. My first trail ride was when I was three years old and I started lessons at the age of six. I’ve been at the same farm for 18 years, which has given me the opportunity to have a couple of really good years showing and also a couple of nasty falls.

Maggie: That’s really cool. What’s your favorite part of riding horses?

Morgan: I really like jumping and doing courses because it’s like a giant puzzle. I get to connect all the little bits and pieces. It’s especially helpful when I’m stressed.

Maggie: That does sound helpful and like a great stress reliever! Speaking of stress, 2020 was a stressful year, to say the least. We recently rang in the new year, and with that, often comes New Year’s resolutions. What are your thoughts on resolutions?

Morgan: I feel like for the longest time I was like, “I’m going to make resolutions,” probably because that’s what everybody else was doing. Each year I’d make a resolution, but never end up doing it. The next year I would do the same thing.

Maggie: I hear that a lot from people. Do you have an example of a resolution you had a hard time sticking with?

Morgan: Every year for the longest time I told myself, “I’m going to start running. I want to strengthen my legs and build up cardio.” I never did it until one-time last year. I went for that run and thought to myself, “why did I think this was a good idea?” I was already getting enough of a workout from riding horses.

Maggie: Yes, you get beyond a full workout! Plus, it’s something that you love. Did you learn anything from that resolution?

Morgan: I had too high of expectations and I’m very hard on myself. I experience negative emotions and lower self-esteem when something doesn’t go my way.

Maggie: I’m also hard on myself, so I can relate to the challenges that New Year’s resolutions can pose, such as increased stress and even emotional harm. Are there other lessons you learned?

Morgan: It may be a new year, but I don’t need a resolution. I don’t need to start something new; I can continue on from where I left off. We need to start looking at resolutions and categorize them more as goals. My resolutions, no not resolutions, I would call them goals…were to get to a place where I could try tapering off my anxiety medication, manage my worries, and figure myself out a little more. I think calling these goals instead of resolutions has helped me with them.

Maggie: Tell me more about your first goal.

Morgan: The summer before I went to college, I started having anxiety, but I didn’t know that’s what it was at the time. I would get very nervous and sick, so I was prescribed medication. After several years of therapy and being on medication, I felt like I was in a good spot and felt good. I had resolved a lot of issues and figured out coping mechanisms. So, we all felt that I was in a good place to reduce and then stop my medication. I always will struggle with little bits of my anxiety and my depression, but now I can figure out when I’m going to go into a rut. When I’m starting to feel down then I try to do something that will make me happy, whether it’s going over to see the horses, watching something on Netflix, reading a book, stuff like that.

Maggie: You put a lot of work into your first goal. That’s fantastic! You mentioned your second goal was to manage your worries. Has it been easier to cope over the past year now that you have accomplished that goal?

Morgan: It was funny because many people thought when the pandemic started that I would be the one to worry. I used to worry about a lot of things. When the pandemic started people asked, “are you ok?” I was fine. My parents were even surprised! I’m doing my own thing, not watching the news, and staying calm. Since the end of 2019, I’m just trying to take things day by day. That’s really all we can do now, especially during such scary and unpredictable times. In a year full of uncertainty, I was able to stay calm, control the things I could control, and not worry about the things I couldn’t. I feel like that’s a really big feat and I’m really proud of that. I want to continue doing that into this year and every year onward.

Maggie: That’s great to hear that accomplishing your goal has made it easier to cope. You should be proud! When we were talking earlier, you mentioned that you had a past resolution to get a boyfriend. What happened with that?

Morgan: One year I made a resolution to try and meet a guy, which I realized later isn’t the most realistic type of goal or resolution. I also realized that I need to put myself first. I’ve mostly figured myself out, but why would I go into a relationship not knowing who I was exactly.

Maggie: Yes, self-awareness is key and a great third goal! Going back to earlier in our conversation, you talked about how trying to make big changes all at once can be hard. So how do you make your goals achievable?

Morgan: I try to put thought and process into my goals. I feel like with resolutions it’s common to think, “I want to be this, this and that.” People try to make drastic and immediate changes, which can be really hard to accomplish. If it’s a big or a long-term issue, though, it can’t always be resolved that simply or quickly. I like to break them down into shorter-term goals.

Maggie: That’s such great advice.

Morgan: Thank you. I like to help people. If this helps people, then that makes me happy.

Maggie: Thank you MR, we really appreciate your time today.

Talking with Morgan put New Year’s resolutions in a whole new light for me. This year, I have decided to not make New Year’s resolutions. Instead, I am going to continue to work on my long-term goal of self-care. What are your plans? Remember—do what is right for you and if it doesn’t work out, then that is okay! Be gentle with yourself, especially during tough times.