“How’s that New Year resolution working for you?”

That’s what the marquis sign at the local swim club would read this time of year at our last duty station. My husband thought the sentiment sounded smug, and he wasn’t convinced it would make people want to join. Part of me agreed, but the other part of me thought, “Are they wrong, though?”

Many of us begin January dedicated and committed to a new habit or lofty goals. By March, how many of us are still determined to crush those 2020 New Year goals? 

Make Your Own New Year

I didn’t make a New Year resolution this year. I usually don’t. But I did make birthday resolutions. That’s when I realized this was my New Year. There’s too much pressure surrounding December 31st and January 1st. Why not decide on a New Year that’s unique to you that you don’t have to share with a bunch of other strivers? Who knows? You may find your goals are more tailored to your needs and easier to manage. 

My own faith tradition celebrates its New Year on the first Sunday of Advent, four(ish) weeks before Christmas. The Jewish New Year takes place in the fall during Rosh Hashanah. Chinese New Year starts on the first of the Lunar Year. Who’s to say you need to wait till next January to turn over a new leaf?

Your new year doesn’t have to start on your birthday. You don’t need a cultural or faith tradition to lean back on. You could choose any day, time or season that is significant to you.

It’s Not Too Late

Images from the Bar on my Birthday
View from the bar on my 33rd birthday. My 33 year old #goals: earn the nickname “Hall-Cat Maggie.”

Maybe it’s because my birthday is at the beginning of February, but I never really cared much about the New Year or New Year’s resolutions. January 1st was simply a hurdle on the way to my birthday.

As many adults do, I gradually lost interest in my birthday. And in recent years, the date always seemed to coincide with deployments, TDYs, or late-term pregnancies, adding to the loss of excitement surrounding the anniversary of my birth. 

But this year’s birthday would be different. My husband would be home, we could be surrounded by good friends, and we have family living close by to watch the kids so we could go out to dinner. He surprised me with a trip to the spa with one of my best friends. For the first time since maybe my 21st, I found myself looking forward to my birthday.

As I anticipated my 33rd birthday, I realized I had been subconsciously treating this non-landmark year as my personal New Year.

I borrowed a 33-day long meditation book from a friend (it seemed too serendipitous to pass up); I made an appointment at the Army Wellness Center to get my resting metabolic rate and body fat composition tested; I got a massage. I resolved to make the day one of quietly triumphant hope. I resolved to use this birthday to honor and be compassionate to my past self that had endured so much.

Know Your Resources to Establish New Routines and Habits

goals on a notepad for new year resolutions
Photo by Isaac Smith on Unsplash

When is the best time for a fresh start? That’s something you have to decide for yourself – maybe in conversation with your friends, family, and spouse.

The military offers a lot of resources for service members and spouses who are looking to get physically, mentally, and spiritually healthy. Find out if your nearest military installation offers wellness coaching, exercise classes, or nutrition help. Make an appointment with behavioral health or schedule an appointment with a Military and Family Life Consultant. Much of this assistance is available to family members free of charge or is covered by TriCare. 

Make a list of the things you would like to accomplish or the goals you have personally or professionally. But do this on your own time. You do not need the pressure of the New Year and its antiquated timeline. It’s up to you and what works best. Traditions are for the birds, right?

Resolutions are so last year.

So if you are struggling with those New Year’s resolutions or have abandoned them entirely, it’s OK. It is never too late to tackle those goals or change something about your life. Take all the time you need.