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Westover: New year brings new reasons to fret — unless we opt out

In 2023, there’s an app, a coach, a product, a gizmo, a device or a template that will help you do better or be better.

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January has barely begun to gain steam, and I don’t know about you, but I’m already feeling flattened by the non-stop new year’s content.

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It’s a bit like drinking from the self-improvement firehose.

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There are so many things, as I understand it, that I should be doing to better my circumstances. I could, for example, pick a one-word mantra to embody my hopes and dreams for 2023. When I read this idea, two words came to mind. (Not fit to print).

I could chip away at all my inadequacies, making tiny increments of improvement across all areas of my life, or I could double down on one specific life goal. I considered both. Then took a nap.

Everywhere I turn, there are life-changing products I can buy to smooth, refine, depuff. But if comes in a pretty glass jar with a gold top, I’m probably allergic. No one wants to start the new year with hives.

I could focus my energies on achieving the perfect slumber, from a temperature controlled sheet set to an app that will record my REMs. And don’t forget the lavender-scented pillow mist. Generally, I fall asleep when I’m tired, so this seems like a lot of preparation and expense for an experience I won’t even remember in the morning.

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To ring in 2023, I could invest in RRSPs, or increase my daughter’s RESP contribution, while harnessing the tax benefits of TFSAs. Or I could pay down debt, using the snowball method, or was it the avalanche protocol? Either way, I’m buried under financial must-dos when all I really want to know is: why is butter so expensive? I should probably resolve to use less. But I won’t.

I should definitely drink more water. And eat more protein. But less meat. Chickpea fizzy drink, anyone? Oh, and how could I forget further antagonizing my relationship with food by adhering to strict, non-sensical periodic fasting. Maybe we should all plan to eat breakfast, at breakfast time, in 2023. Just a thought.

And, let’s not forget exercise. There’s HIIT. And strength training. And yoga. Also meditation. Mindfulness and deep breathing. Does anyone have to work at all, I wonder? Because between getting a full night’s sleep, walking 10,000 steps, drinking eight glasses of water and eating at odd hours, my calendar is pretty full.

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Which brings me to work-related ambitions for 2023. Be productive, but don’t get burned out. Don’t be a quiet quitter, unless you actually want to quit. In which case, consider doing it loudly. Make lists, but don’t be a slave to your list. Listen, and don’t interrupt, but also speak up and lean in. Unless you need to lean out, in which case, do that. Ideally, somewhere warm with a frothy beach.

Which brings us to travel. After lockdown, it’s time to seize the day. But sustainably, of course. Carbon off-sets are good. Staycations are better. So, go! See the world! But on your bike.

Whatever you do, or don’t do, in 2023, remember there is an app, a coach, a product, a gizmo, a device or a template that will help you do it better.

Or…we could stop buying into the commodification of our insecurities.

Maybe we are actually OK just the way we are. Wouldn’t that be a welcome change for 2023?

Suzanne Westover is an Ottawa writer.

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