lifestyle

"How my anxiety and fear led to my best year ever."

New Years resolutions are like an uncomfortable pair of heels.

You pick them out with good intentions, but as they continue to make your day-to-day life hard to navigate they end up tossed in a corner, silently mocking you for your inability to make them work.

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I’ve always been a firm believer that New Year’s Eve is a time for big earrings, not big life changers.

In fact, a recent ABC article lamented that only eight per cent of those who set New Year’s goals actually achieve them. According to science, we’re all just setting ourselves up to fail, which is why I’ve never entertained the fantasy of setting New Year’s goals.

Until last year, 2015, when I made three New Year’s resolutions for the very first time in my life.

And I kept every single one of them.

Somehow, I managed to be part of that insane eight percent and, as the sky filled with fireworks and my phone flicked over from 2015 to 2016, I felt a flutter of happiness in my stomach when I realized my year long goals all had a smug little tick beside them.

(I mean, it could have been all those jelly beans I insisted on dropping into my champagne during the night, but I feel like my mother would prefer I say it was ‘happiness’.)

My desire to jump on the resolution bandwagon happened at the very tale end of 2014, on a stinking hot day spent languishing in Far North Queensland. To be honest, the word ‘languishing’ is actually code for ‘sulking’ because that’s exactly what I was doing.

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Sulking because I would soon be saying goodbye to blissful holidays and hello to a life rut the size of Kanye’s ego.

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So dire were my feelings of despair I decided the only way I was going to weave my way out of this dilemma was to make some big, big changes.

Goals I was going to see. On December 31. That would take me a year to achieve.

Ugh, it was time to bite the bullet and call them what they were, New Year’s freaking resolutions.

The first thing I had to do was give myself a sharp wake-up call. I had my health and no dependents clamoring for my support, no micro humans squawking to be fed or relatives who required my assistance to stay alive.

I also realized that even with very few obstacles in my way, the sky was not the limit. Shooting for the moon does not always mean you’ll land among the stars, sometimes you’ll just plummet back down to earth and break both your legs.

Which brings me to the first thing you’ll need to complete your resolutions.

Realism. 

As much as I may have wanted to morph into a Naomi Campbell/Elle Macpherson hybrid (or maybe Anne Hathaway’s face on Scarlett Johansson’s body? I can never decide), I knew that feasibly it was a goal outside the realm of possibility. Kind of like Madonna reinventing herself as a demure children’s author -destined to fail.

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Likely?
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Kylie Jenner is ‘realising’ some things about New Year’s resolutions too:

Video via Kylie Jenner

Instead, I whittled down my hopes and dreams to a list of three goals that, if I worked hard at (and maybe stopped watching Gilmore Girls until 2am every night) I actually had a shot in hell of achieving. Leading to step two…

Accountability.

It’s fairly easy to make these grand resolutions and then drop them like a hot chip once Easter eggs start filling the shelves. Open ended vows such as “read more books’ or “meet new people” are swarming with loopholes, which is why you need to set yourself three concrete goals with a definitive end-game.

You also need to have a tangible reminder of your goals on hand, something to keep you honest when the lure of Netflix tempts you away from living a life that won’t make you cringe with embarrassment on your death bed. Options include jotting down your goals in blood or having them tattooed across some unmentionable body part.

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But because I am terrified of both needles and bodily fluids, I opted to rip a page from the trashy magazine lying beside me and scrawl my resolutions next to an article documenting romantic turbulence between Brad and Ange (will those crazy kids ever get it together?).

I wrote

  • Travel to three countries I’ve never been to before.
  • Start my own website
  • Get a new job.

There they were, in writing, three unbreakable goals. As witnessed by Brad and Ange.

Now comes the hard part, step three.

Resilience…..and a healthy dose of fear. 

New Year’s resolutions are an everyday, all the time, kind of deal. Which is why I took that slightly crumpled magazine page and placed it in my wallet.

It then proceeded to judge, inspire and scold me for an entire year.

Every time I reached inside to grab some cash, it would ask me how movie tickets were going to write on my website. Every time I went to grab my ID, it pondered how heading into a nightclub would land me a new job. And every time I tried to use my credit card, it would demand to know how new shoes were going to fund international flights.

It was a judgmental, condescending and ruthless little bastard, but I have to admit, it did its job well.

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It never let me stray from resolution road, each day sending a wave of expectation and a little stab of fear my way.

Fear that propelled me to fill out Visa forms, pinch my pennies and work overtime for plane tickets, spend hours wrangling with WordPress and perfect pristine cover letters and resumes.

But around June, I started to seriously question this resolution caper.

Would things really be that bad if my biggest achievement in life was being able to recite full episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer by heart? That’s got to be a marketable skill in some part of the world.

But then my website came together and I was able to write uninhibited. My trip was planned and I boarded a plane to China, then Mongolia, then Russia. I snagged a new job and moved into a different world of work.

#goals New Years Resolutions

Tick. Tick. Tick. All because of a little piece of paper that bullied me into following through.

So, that’s it. Realism, accountability and resilience. Write down your goals and let the fear and anxiety propel you forward.

And if you find yourself scrawling affirmations on your mirror in lipstick every morning stop, just stop.

You’ve gone too far.

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