by Beth Ward

It’s at the strike of midnight every New Year’s Eve that we’re all abruptly confronted with both the best and worst of ourselves – the best found in our hopes and plans for the upcoming year, the worst in all the things we failed to achieve in last one.

And the dawn of 2016 isn’t looking to be any different.

It’s a few days into the New Year, back at work or school, and we’re again grappling with post-hangover promises to spend these next 365 days pursuing goals that will make us better, healthier, more physically fit, more financially sound, more well-traveled, less over-scheduled, better organized, less likely to eat an entire jar of Nutella in one sitting… The list goes on and on.

It’s in this ceaselessness – to change, to be different, to lose the weight, and clean out the closet, and stop hitting the snooze button three four times every morning – that I find the biggest fault in this holiday.

Because we sit down and write our lists of resolutions, and get rid of all the sugar in the house, and sign up for that new aerial yoga class. And then, the next thing we know, it’s three months in and we’ve fallen off the wagon, poured the wine, and beaten ourselves up about the jeans that still don’t fit. It’s an insidious cycle that tends to end with that same damn jar of Nutella and a boatload of shame.

All this is not to say that it’s bad to set goals for ourselves. It isn’t. They say that goal setting helps us to redirect our aimless energies and streamline our lives into something more manageable. Goals help teach us discipline and make us more likely to accomplish things.

What I am saying is that resolutions like the ones we make every New Year are heavy. They sit on our shoulders and weigh us down; and I don’t know about you, but my purse is heavy enough as it is without lugging around the added weight of expectation.

So this year, regardless of what your resolutions are, please try and keep a few of these things in mind as you work to achieve them.

One. Make room for mistakes. They make us complex, interesting, fully formed people, and there are many gooey, beautiful lessons to be learned from them.

Two. No is a complete sentence. Despite what you may have heard, exhaustion is not sexy or romantic, and there’s no real glory in it. But there is liberation in standing up for your own limitations. If you’re too tired, or too stressed, or don’t have time, or don’t want to, you are allowed to say so with the full weight of who you are, no explanation required. This will make you feel lighter than that half hour you spend on the treadmill, I promise.

Three. Save a little room for that slice of pie. Take twenty minutes for painting or reading or wandering or rolling around on the floor with your kids. Have that glass of whiskey on the porch after a long day. This is the good stuff. This is the in-between stuff that has no place on a calendar or Outlook invite. This is the type of delicious life stuff that will fuel your soul when it’s starving.

And lastly, remember that you are so much more than you’re able to accomplish in a day, a week, or a year.

We are tragic, ludicrous, vast things, wide-open vessels built from experience and memories and trials and joys that are specific to us. And the world will continue to turn regardless of the size jeans you find yourself in 365 days from now, when you’re just as beautiful and stellar as you have always been.

Beth Ward is an Atlanta-based writer, content producer, and word crafter who is also deeply in love with the color, history, and people intrinsic to Marietta Square. These are a few of her favorite things: books, the sound of a needle dropping on a vinyl record, anything Stevie Nicks does, dark chocolate, light rain, late-night coffee runs, Christmas lights, British humor, and a well-crafted pun. You can read more of her work by visiting her blog, Aesthetics & Miscellany.