Things I'm doing instead of making resolutions
Here's hoping the vibes are better in 2022
It’s the beginning of a new year, so everyone’s thinking about fresh starts, goals, resolutions, intentions, whatever it is you do.
I’ve always been a big resolutions person — I always get swept up in the feeling of excitement around a new year, fresh planners, setting goals — but I struggled to think of any for this year. Instead, I had kind of a vision of the quality of life I want to have in 2022, but that didn’t really translate well to the structured, rigid format of resolutions. Last year, I didn’t really set any resolutions either, because it felt so hard to count on anything in a year that looked so uncertain.
It also seems like there’s been a backlash to new year’s resolutions themselves. Every year, there are more articles about how resolutions never work, how most people have abandoned theirs by February. Experts are always telling people to keep their goals small and measurable, to not be too ambitious or they’ll fail right out of the gate. There’s talk of how pointless it is to peg goals to the new year — if you want to build a new habit, some say just do it; why the arbitrary date of January 1? It feels like “resolutions” aren’t really in vogue anymore.
Interestingly, I think a lot of people are still into capitalizing on the feeling of a fresh start that a new year brings. Instead, they’re “setting intentions” or picking a theme word for the year or setting their “22 for ‘22” or creating “more/less” lists. All these different things still boil down to the same idea: setting aspirations and hopes and dreams for a new year.
I like these alternatives a lot more than resolutions, though. This year, they really appealed to me in yet another uncertain time where it feels impossible to plan, impossible to know what the future might look like. Resolutions feel really rigid: they’re always a very specific, grand goal. Successful ones are supposed to be measurable, to do something once a week or once a month or whatever cadence, so that you can actually measure whether you completed it. But this year, that made me feel boxed in. Thinking about what I wanted out of the new year in a different framework made a lot more sense.
So here are a few things I decided to do to kick off 2022, instead of setting resolutions:
A More/Less list for 2022: I first heard about the idea from the illustrator Julia Rothman, who posts hers on Instagram each year: it’s a list of things she wants more of and less of in her life in the coming year. For me, this felt right in terms of how I’m thinking about what I want out of life in 2022. My list included things like more walks, dinner parties, good wine, cooking, friends and family time, early rising, and reading in print (both books + magazines/newspapers), and less screen time, Twitter, ordering delivery, saying yes to things out of obligation, and giving my time to things/events/people that aren’t a priority. Here’s more on her idea in the NYT! (I didn’t draw mine, but if you feel like drawing, more power to you!) I also like this similar Away/Toward framework, too.
Analog January, or something like it: And honing in on that screen time goal a little bit, I’ve been thinking about the idea of Analog January, from author Cal Newport. I work in digital media, so there’s no way I can never go truly analog for any period of time. But I am always thinking about ways to spend less time on my phone. A few things I decided to do: over the holiday break, I deleted Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and Tiktok from my phone. I found I don’t miss Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit much, so I won’t be re-downloading them! I still need to use Twitter for work, so I’ve decided I’ll use it exclusively on my work computer — but will no longer have the app on my phone, so I don’t fall into the trap of aimlessly scrolling through Twitter on my phone after the workday is over. And when it comes to Instagram and Tiktok — these two social networks actually bring me a lot of joy, so I don’t want to quit them, but I’m taking a break from Instagram for a couple weeks and setting screen time limits for both Tiktok + Instagram.
A digital declutter: I spent a bunch of time while I was off work last week cleaning up my digital life. I unsubscribed from newsletters I was no longer reading. I backed up and organized all my thousands of photos from my phone in Dropbox, sorting them into folders by year (here’s a good guide to the photo project). I deleted apps from my phone that I no longer use regularly. It felt great! Highly recommend.
Good things to read
The year I got back online, Gawker.
Who is “that girl”? She’s all of us, Refinery29. This is a bit old but was new to me.
Emma Straub on opening her bookstore, Books Are Magic, Lithub. If you’re a fan of Brooklyn’s Books Are Magic (and/or were a fan of the late BookCourt!) this one’s for you.
At least the snacks were fantastic in 2021, Grubstreet.
When Williamsburg was on the wrong side of the river, The New Yorker.
The absurdity of renting a car will no longer be tolerated, The Atlantic.
How many books does it take to make a place feel like home?, New York Times.
It’s okay if you don’t have baby fever, The Atlantic.
In 2030, you won’t own any gadgets, Gizmodo.
Good things to cook
Last week I didn’t cook too much, but tonight I made Gaby Dalkin’s broiled salmon, and other things I’m planning to make this week include this noodle-less pad thai-inspired dish, Gaby Dalkin’s go-to kale salad, this enchilada skillet, and a Mediterranean chopped salad.
Essays about social media: I appreciate the boldness of people who wrote cutting pieces about the state of social media this year: It Is Obscene by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (the last paragraph stole my breath), Instagram Story-ing Our Way Through an Attempted Coup by Nisha Chittal, and On Online by Alicia Kennedy. All three of these made me think hard about my relationship to Instagram and create resolutions around which new norms I would and would not participate in.
Thank you, Mari! And if you, person reading this right now, enjoy this newsletter, would you consider sharing it with a friend or two or on social media? Your referrals are the main way this newsletter gets new subscribers! Thank you for reading & sharing. ❤️