After everything that’s happened in 2020, setting goals seems like a big ask. Resolutions inherently mean discomfort and require resolve, and most of us have had enough of the former and don’t have much left of the latter. The response to the annual tradition might involve a collective groan, eye roll, and require a censor.
The question is, is it okay to take this year off?
“It’s always okay,” says Dr. Inna Khazan, clinical psychologist and lecturer in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
Why do we make resolutions?
Resolutions have their use in pushing us out of our comfort zones, but they aren’t required. Some people stick to them and benefit, but others have a different relationship with resolutions: they make them without any intention of keeping them, and repeat this cycle year after year.
Khazan says that the result can be almost like doing less than nothing. “It provokes shame and guilt,” she says. “You’re not only not benefiting yourself, but you’re also kind of harming yourself.”
There’s no need for that. Resolutions should be based on two things: what you want to do and what you can do. You need to look at yourself, your schedule, your resources, and assess how full your plate is, and as Khazan says, for many people in 2020, “the plate is full.”
Not only that, but a person’s life could already include personal and professional loss, adds Dr. David H. Rosmarin, director of the Spirituality and Mental Health Program at McLean Hospital and assistant professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School. Resolutions just don’t rank on the priority list.
But Rosmarin says that before completely dismissing the idea, think about just some of the challenges that have happened: Kobe Bryant dying in January, then COVID-19, school from home, racial unrest