by Diya Chandna

On the last day of every year, I’m convinced that I can transform into the perfect version of myself once the clock strikes twelve. On the first day of every year, I emerge from my bedroom with an ambitious list of aspirations—the exact same one that I’ve come up with since second-year high school. Sometimes I wonder if I too haven’t changed…if I’ve become as stagnant and passive as my growing collection of discarded lists. So this year, I’ve added a new item on the bucket list: investigate why it’s so darn difficult to stick to New Year’s resolutions.

Resolution One: Meet that Goodreads Goal

In other words, read five more books than I did the previous year. It used to be about the joy of exploring new worlds and savouring the literary aesthetic; now, it is about completing a formula for self-improvement. What did enjoyment matter, if I could appear intellectual and academic in front of my peers? If I could quote Shakespeare soliloquies and reference Milton and Donne? But as my nightstand buckled under the weight of new titles every January, so would I. My desire to impress would overshadow my love for the written word, and I began to wonder if people valued the state of being well-read more than the readings themselves.

Resolution Two: Stay Away from the Confectionary Aisle

“This is the year I put an end to emotional eating!” Surely, I could stop gorging on M&Ms and KitKats and fix every physical flaw ruining my life. If I turned down trips to ice-cream parlours with my friends, doubled down on removing artificial sweeteners from my meals, and munched down on lettuce and carrots like a rabbit, there was no way I wouldn’t be able to bury my insecurities beneath a facade of health consciousness and body fitness. Who even cares why I’m stressed when I can distract myself with the illusion of health consciousness and a fitter body? It’s a dance of denial where the real problem remains unaddressed, concealed beneath a Toblerone wrapper. As I resist the siren call of the Buttery’s Big Belly Cookie, I wonder whether Ulysses would have voluntarily stayed on the island if Circe had enticed him with a trove of chocolate instead of magic.

Resolution Three: Tracking my Expenses

This is the year that I will record and keep track of every dollar I spend. With spreadsheets and determination, I delve into the world of personal finance. My wallet becomes a chequebook of receipts, and each purchase is a step forward in my grand journey of fiscal responsibility. Unfortunately, two weeks into the new year, the spreadsheet transforms into an abandoned manuscript, signs of neglect echoing in the empty chambers of its cells. The looming credit card bill inspires true fear in me. As it turns out, Apple does not pay for ApplePay—I do.

Resolution Four: Mastering Time Management

This resolution is a classic. Every January, I spend hours meticulously crafting colour-coded planners, marking out each second of my day, and planning exactly how and when I’ll accomplish each task. I’d invest in calligraphy markers and fancy agendas, hoping to manifest punctuality through purchase. But soon enough, like the walls of ancient civilizations, my resolutions crumble with the passage of time. The once impregnable fortress of discipline succumbs to the siege of unforeseen scheduling demands and the irresistible temptation of Netflix marathons. The meticulous timetables become relics of a simpler time, and my daily planner transforms into a graveyard of unfulfilled tasks. It feels like I’m upstaging Shakespeare with my own tragedy—the story of a girl who never reaches her true potential. Will I emerge victorious in the battle against procrastination, or will I forever be constrained to the tragic fate of time mismanagement?

Oh.

In reflecting, I’ve realised something. I’ve always equated self-improvement with self-loathing; if I wanted to change a part of myself, I must’ve hated that part of me for being anything less than perfect. But ultimately, my goals should be set for the benefit of who I am now, for the sake of my own happiness and in my own way—not for the socially-constructed image of perfection. Instead of expecting myself to wake up as a perfect human being on the first of January, I’m going to spend time creating and building habits that will help me achieve my goals. Just by realising this, perhaps I’m already halfway there.

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