The month of January is coloured with declarations of intent. These are challenges of restoration, intended to make us ‘better’ humans. Run a marathon, join a gym, reduce screen time, read more books, get more sleep, quit smoking, save money, eat healthy, reduce your carbon footprint, spend more time outdoors... An idyllic 2019 awaits.
BEING BETTER: BACK TO BASICS
One third of resolutions made in the US are ‘get thin’ related - focusing on making new healthier habits. But when it comes to health, youth’s desire is to be fit (physically and mentally) rather than simply skinny. This is manifesting via the likes of at home workouts, a commitment to eating less meat, as well as a renewed focus on digital detoxing, reading books, and mindfulness.
“I’m going to try read 50 books this year, I have the Goodreads app to track them all. I also want to learn how to knit. Mainly as a reason for me not to be on my phone all the time. I also went to my first mindfulness class on Monday. Because we all spend a lot of time thinking about the future or things that have happened in the past and I want to work on being less like that. It was very interesting and a good reminder to be present. We had to mindfully eat a raisin...” Francis, 25.
These trending youth resolutions for 2019 are about going back to basics and leading ‘simpler’ lives. Boundaries on screen time address an increasingly uncomfortable relationship with their smartphones (and the implications this has on their mental health). Some are proactively deleting social media apps, while others are setting ambitious goals for reading more physical books (book sales are booming - in the UK last year over 109 million books were sold and the industry just recorded its fourth consecutive year of growth).
Another trending ‘back to basics’ #goal is decluttering or organising. It’s recently been popularised by Netflix star and ‘tidying expert’ Marie Kondo. Her show ‘Tidying Up’ premiered on the platform on Jan 1st (and led to some seriously joyful Tweets). The ‘KonMari’ method is about tidying your space in order to transform your life. This requires you to remove objects from your life and environment that do not give you joy.
“Clearing out your bedroom is such a cleansing thing for your soul. Nothing says New Year like a good clear-out and Marie Kondo’s method gives you the structure and encouragement to say ‘thank you, next’ to the clutter in your life and get rid of the things that don’t bring you joy. What better way to start 2019?” Danielle, 28.
Decluttering efforts have many revered benefits. Emma Gleeson, founder of ‘Give Up Yer Aul Tings’ articulates how emotional clutter builds up alongside the physical: “The sense of freedom and relief that comes from decluttering is enormous and will make your living spaces cleaner, your mind lighter and your spending habits healthier.” Many youth resolutions focused on simpler living are also grounded in more environmentally-friendly, sustainable-living goals.
SCRAPPING & SHRINKING THE RESOLUTION
Despite the positive intent behind resolutions, there is, of course, a darker side to all of this proactiveness - and vocal pockets of anti-resolutioners. Some don’t want to put added pressure on themselves. Others see that unnecessary resolution notions often come from external influences (like brands), rather than being genuine aspirational habits based on an individual’s behaviour.
“I don’t like markers of time being indicators of what I should and shouldn’t do. I just need to adapt and adjust throughout the year as I go.” Dave, 26.
In addition, too often resolutions involve financially investing in ‘future you’. On the one hand, spending money might be an encouragement to actually keeping a resolution going. But it’s also a restriction for many young people who simply can’t afford the likes of gym memberships, or who get overwhelmed by the feeling that what they really want to resolve, is far out of reach. In fact, 35% of people who break their New Year’s resolution claim they have unrealistic goals.
Youth’s solution? The mini-resolution. Ambition for the year ahead is not set aside, rather, unrealistic goals are shoved from a pedestal and replaced with small, incremental goals that feel more achievable. No big life changes.
“I’m just trying to be more self aware. I’m taking a moment to think a little more before I say things.” Sophie, 27.
Young people are embracing the power of small to change for the better, when so often things can feel too much.