Well, we did it. We made it to the end of the first week of January — which is essentially a weeklong Monday in the Monday of the year. How are those resolutions holding up?
I’m pretty sure I drank a glass of water yesterday, so Operation Be More Hydrated is going perfectly, thank you.
Regular readers of this column know that I don’t love the idea of making New Year’s resolutions. Frankly, I find them judgmental. They often involve taking an inventory of all the ways you’re falling short while completely discounting all the ways you’re succeeding, every day, just by showing up for your life.
Resolutions are often rooted in addressing perceived deficits with improvement and optimization, relying on “resolve” alone to fix what’s “wrong” or making big, wholesale changes that are often unattainable and unsustainable — and then beating yourself up when you inevitably “fail.”
But, I can’t help it: I love the idea of a blank slate. I love the idea of “setting an intention” and thinking about “what kind of energy I’d like to bring into 2024” — it’s “feral raccoon” by the way — and whatever else the ladies clad in matching pastel-hued workout sets are telling me to do on Instagram.
There’s something attractive about the newness of a new year, something hopeful about saying, out loud, that you believe a better year (or a better month, week or even day) is possible.
As an elder millennial who grew up on magazines, I also love a good In/Out list. You may have seen these in-lieu-of-resolutions lists — which are, I recognize, just resolutions in a cuter format — all over social media over the past few weeks. These lists, both joking and earnest, personal and broad, are a riff on the Washington Post’s annual In/Out list, which has been published since the 1970s.
My In/Out list for 2024
In: Making peace with winter
Out: Bemoaning winter
Yes, it’s dark. It’s (usually) cold. It’s slippery. You need to buy a Costco-sized tub of Extra-Strength Moisturizer for Upsetting Skin (not what it’s called, but might as well be). But we live in a winter city (for now!) and I will tell you this: if you can lean into it, winter becomes a lot less painful. Go breathe in some crisp air. Photograph a frost-filigreed tree. Light some candles and get cosy. And if you can’t find joy in the season, find solace in the fact that it’s temporary.
In: Paying for news
Out: Getting news from social media
If you’re reading this, I’m likely preaching to the converted when it comes to the value of having a newspaper subscription. But my hope for 2024 is that this is the year people decide that news is worth paying for. Between misinformation and the proliferation of AI-generated content — seriously, what is with all those fake celebrity AI photos on Facebook lately? — having access to trustworthy sources of information is especially paramount.
In: Want-to-do lists
Out: Should-do lists
Let’s have more fun in 2024. What are some things you actually want to do? Not what you should do or have to do or think you should or have to do — but actually want to do? What’s stopping you from doing those things? What could support you actually doing those things? Think about your want-to-do list. You know, if you want.
I get it, we’re all busy. But surely there’s room in our Tetris-like schedules for an unscheduled hang? Maybe we’re all operating under the assumption that everyone is too busy and don’t even think to ask our friends, “Hey, what are you doing right now?” Or maybe we’re afraid of rejection. Having plans to look forward to is great, but sometimes the best times are the ones that weren’t on the calendar.
Out: Side hustles
I realized, recently, that I don’t really have any hobbies. I literally had to Google what a hobby even is because apparently watching copious amounts of TV isn’t one? But I think many of us would benefit from cultivating a hobby that A) brings enjoyment and B) allows you to get into a flow state. Mastery is great and can certainly be part of having a hobby, but I also think it’s worth doing things you don’t feel compelled to monetize/professionalize. Has your comfort zone become a rut? Do more things you’re bad at.
In: Inbox infinity
Out: Inbox zero
Look, you tried, with your cute little folders and futile organizational systems. It’s time to just let the email wash over you.
Jen Zoratti is a Winnipeg Free Press columnist and author of the newsletter, NEXT, a weekly look towards a post-pandemic future.