2017 was pretty momentous, as far as mental health and recovery goes.
I was finally diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which was one of the most important realizations I’ve ever had. It’s also the year I finally said goodbye to alcohol and hello to online therapy (both A+ decisions). As far as personal growth goes, it was kind of a banner year for me.
It wasn’t easy, though. 2017 was also an important reminder that healing takes hard work. The combination of political and personal turmoil landed me in the hospital last January, and a series of unchecked compulsions finally led me to seek professional help for my OCD after it tore through my life like a relentless tornado.
That’s because, my dear internet pals, healing isn’t linear. When you think you’ve got a plan in place, the universe often laughs in response.
So why make resolutions at all? Well, I believe it’s powerful to begin a new year by saying, “I’m choosing me.”
Every year for the past few years, I’ve shared my resolutions with the internet with the hopes of inspiring folks to choose themselves, and to be thoughtful about how they’ll care for themselves in the new year.
These resolutions are affirming our right to commit to and prioritize our wholeness; they’re the map that reminds us that to give to others, we have to first nourish ourselves.
These are fifteen resolutions that I have for 2018. I hope that you’ll steal them, throw them up on your vision board, tattoo them on your body, whatever — if you feel inspired, I hope you’ll carry them with you as you navigate the new year.
1. I will stop looking for permission to be happy.
I’ve noticed that I shy away from things that make me happy in favor of the things that make… literally everyone but me happy. I’m a people-pleaser by nature, but in 2018, I want to start unapologetically seeking out things that bring me joy, even if I’m the only one enjoying it.
2. I’ll think twice before I do something out of a sense of obligation.
I have a very difficult time saying “no,” especially as someone with a strong sense of empathy and loyalty. In the new year, though, I want to reconsider just how often I’m doing things because I feel obligated to — especially from people who could be taking advantage of my generosity.
3. I’ll focus less on what my life “should” look like.
Instead of living a life that looks good on paper, 2018 is going to be the year that I focus on self-reflection and building a life that makes me happy, regardless of how it compares to anybody else. Because sure, there are people in their late twenties that are traveling the world or working themselves to the point of exhaustion. But neither of those things actually appeal to me — so why should I measure myself against them?
4. I’ll commit five minutes to doing things that make me anxious.
I’m a chronic procrastinator. One of the antidotes I’ve read about is setting aside five minutes to Do The Thing, and giving yourself permission to stop after that if you don’t want to continue. Why? Because getting started is the difficult part, and it’s easier to commit to doing something for five minutes than trying to tackle the entire task. So this coming year? I’m going to do my best to commit five minutes to the stuff I’m dreading.
5. I’ll embrace being “too much.”
I’ve worried a lot about loving too hard or having too many feelings, or otherwise being “too much” for people. But what I’m realizing is that my intensity and depth of emotion are an intrinsic part of who I am. It’s a part of me that doesn’t need to change.
6. I’ll set boundaries even if it’s difficult for me or the other person involved.
I’m a pushover. I’ll admit it. When people demand my time or energy, I often cave immediately. And when I try to set limits, the faintest sign of disappointment or resentment will send me into a tailspin. But this next year, I’m setting boundaries and sticking to them. My heart is worthy of protection.
7. I’ll savor the time I spend alone.
This past year, I talked about how difficult I found it to be alone. But more recently, I’ve started to really enjoy it. In the new year, I want to take myself on more dates, embrace long walks for daydreaming, and give myself the space and time to reflect without interruption.
8. I’ll try to ruminate less on what I could be doing and enjoy what I’m actually doing.
How often do I worry about what I could or should be doing instead of just being present? Easier said than done, but rather than feeling guilty for how many hours of Netflix I’ve watched, I want to get in the habit of simply asking myself, “Is there something wrong with what I’m doing now?” And if there isn’t, maybe I can just freaking enjoy it for once.
9. I’ll let myself tap out if I feel like I can’t support someone emotionally.
There are people I’d literally fall onto a sword for. That doesn’t mean that I should, though. And if I find myself depleted, I want to make sure I’m taking care of myself instead of burning out.
10. I’ll give myself permission to ask “ridiculous” questions.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit how often I don’t understand something or pretend to know what people are talking about, just because I’m afraid of looking uncool or clueless. But what would happen if I just asked more questions? In 2018, I guess I’m going to find out.
11. I’ll practice naming exactly what I need from the people that I love.
I’m pretty sure this has been a resolution for me three years in a row now. But that’s because it’s so, so important. I want to keep practicing being direct when I need support. It’s the best way for folks to know what to offer me when I’m struggling.
12. I’ll curate my social media more intentionally.
I’ve started spending most of my online time on Instagram now. Why? Because I (purposefully) follow accounts that are positive and affirming, so it’s basically my only safe haven at this point. I highly recommend being thoughtful about who you follow and what you expose yourself to. It’s important to be informed, but it’s also important to take care of your mental health, too. (I talk a bit more about this in this blog.) Next year, I want to continue curating all of my social media accounts to be more balanced.
13. I’ll pause sometimes and make sure I’m doing what I actually want to be doing.
How often did I go along with someone else’s plan just because they were more assertive than me? How frequently did I default just because it was easier to? While it’s totally fine to go with the flow, every so often, I want to check in with myself and make sure I’m spending my time in ways that feel fulfilling for me, too.
14. I’ll ask the folks I care about what makes them feel loved.
I want to get in the habit of asking the people that I love what makes them feel appreciated. It’s different for everyone, right? Some people want to be showered with encouraging words. Some folks want physical touch or a thoughtful gift. So why not ask the people that are meaningful to me what makes them feel cared for?
15. I’ll resist letting shame control me.
Remember when I mentioned being diagnosed with OCD earlier? It took this long because I was so ashamed of my intrusive thoughts and bizarre rituals that I kept it to myself. Not anymore, though. This next year, I’m not going to let shame discourage me from getting the support I need. Often times, the things that make us feel like monsters or weirdos are actually common and very human experiences. No more shame.
So, readers, here’s to a brand new year.
After what was a difficult year for many of us, I hope these resolutions inspire you to invest more deeply in your own mental health and happiness. A year of honesty, authenticity, and self-care — in other words, the year that each and every one of us deserves.
You’ve got this!
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Looking for some extra resources to make 2018 a better year?
I’ve got a few to recommend!
If you need to get organized: ADHD Survival Guide: How I Stopped Procrastinating and Got My Sh!t Together
If you’re thinking of getting some extra support: 7 Signs That Online Therapy Might Be Right For You
If you’re looking to incorporate more self-care into your life: 5 Awesome, Immediate Self-Care Resources For When You Feel Like Actual Garbage