How to Drop That Guilt About 'Failed' Resolutions.
Abandoned a hobby recently? Me too - and that's a good thing!
With the start of a new year comes the general onslaught of new expectations, resolutions and hopeful promises to yourself. Huge, exciting ideas of weight loss, brand new hobbies and new year new me swim to the forefront of your mind.
However, for most of us, this won’t last. In fact - out of 800 million new hobbies picked up in the first week of January, most of these will be dropped on the 19th January. The positive of this is that - if you’ve picked up something you’d like to hang onto - then do it until the 20th and you’ve beaten most!
However, for most of us - that resolution to go for a run every morning, read for an hour a day, or completing 3 Duolingo language lessons a week, quickly fades as you realise the tedium of the task. Eventually you avoid it for one day - just one day, you reason to yourself - and then, before you know it, the idea and motivation has slipped your brain entirely.
I know it’s easy to feel guilty over dropped hobbies - take your pick from worrying over money spent, to the mind-eating shame of lost potential. But, in this mess of guilt, it’s easy to forget the vital importance of picking up - and, in the process, dropping - hobbies.
Firstly, the fact that you had the courage to begin a hobby or resolution - something totally new, and in the process, pushing you out of your comfort zone - needs to be recognised as powerful. Regardless of where these branching interests led, you still had the balls to take that first step. By starting something, and following through even once or twice - you’re continuously flexing those mental muscles of willpower and dedication. Furthermore, by picking up new activities, you’re actively supporting the growth of new nerve cells.
If you happened to enjoy some of the new stuff you picked up over the year (whether that was a lockdown hobby or a new year’s resolution) - then congratulations! You found yourself a new form of escapism. Escapism is an incredibly overlooked part of mental health; healthy in small quantities, this allows you to take the pressure off, offering a healthy way for your brain to switch off from stress and anxiety. However briefly, these activities help remove you from a toxic headspace that can snare the healthiest, most diligent of hobbyists. It’s here that the power of quick-hopping through hobbies lies: by engaging with new material, the escapist power of each activity remains far greater, before it becomes a learned habit.
Another often-overlooked benefit of a temporary hobby is, put simply: other people! Say you picked up knitting for a month or so, and then life got in the way. Whilst traditional society would say you failed - you’ve now unlocked a wealth of like-minded people. If the topic happens to come up in conversation - at work, or in your social life - you’ll have a much easier time connecting with others, and you might even get the chance to flex your knowledge of the difference between a perl and garter stitch. Watch everyone else’s face scrunch in confusion as you and this someone bond over a shared connection.
Though there’s a wealth of value to be recognised in temporary hobbies - the flipside of this is guilt. The danger of guilt rears itself at every opportunity: New Year’s especially. It’s easy -when a spark of interest flares in your belly, and you fall into a Google rabbithole of a hobby - to look back at that time you picked up the guitar, and dropped it after a month. What’s the point, picking this new hobby up you might ask yourself you’ll just drop it anyway. I’ve heard this from myself, plenty of times. And it stops you in your tracks, removing that hobby set from your Amazon basket and returning to your usual schedule of work-eat-sleep.
That’s the power of guilt - if you let your previous temporary hobbies get in the way of new development, then you lock yourself in limbo. You’re not allowed to go out there and enjoy new things, for fear of some social power judging that you’re not committing enough.
Well, fuck it. If you must, abandon the concept of ‘hobby’ altogether: fill your time with stuff you enjoy - there’s only one way to find out if you like it. Even if you absolutely despise this activity after 2 weeks, you still reap all the benefits from the time you spent following your heart. Follow your interests with wild abandon; collide with as many like-minded others as you can; collect hobbies like Pokemon gym badges. We might be old enough to know the world isn’t our oyster, but following joy and trusting your heart - whenever and wherever possible - is a choice you can trust yourself to make.