Maximizing your alone time is a great New Year’s resolution for introverts — and scheduling it (in pen) will help.
The last two years have sure been, um, different than the norm. In some ways, working remotely and needing to see fewer people in order to protect our safety has been an introvert’s dream. And with the arrival of the New Year, I find myself reflecting on ways I can make my life the best it can be.
Of course, typical New Year’s resolutions come in many forms, from exercising more and eating healthier to saving money and paying off debt. For introverts, resolutions for good self-care can help us be our best selves and be the most prepared for whatever situation comes our way.
So how will we “quiet ones” move forward in the next year? Successfully. Here are some ideas for New Year’s resolutions for introverts.
7 Essential New Year’s Resolutions for Introverts
1. Make meaningful connections with friends.
Many people are steeped in a world of non-meaningful connection, like bragging about their lives on social media, putting on a fake front, mindless chit-chat that sucks our energy dry, and a social system that places value on the number, rather than the quality, of friendships.
As much as I need my solitude, I know I’m not alone in needing meaningful connection with the important people in my life. Read: meaningful connection — not just connection.
This next year, decide what it means to have a meaningful connection: Is it a quiet walk with one close friend? A long conversation with a parent or a sibling? Writing a heartfelt email to a friend you only see once every so often? Doing the dishes with your roommate? Sitting in absolute silence with another fellow introvert who “gets it”?
Take a second to think about what meaningful connection is and feels like, and how you can incorporate it into your friendship rituals for 2022. Knowing what you need in your connections and setting up the criteria for connections that nourish (rather than drain) you will help you decide where to use your “people” energy, and when to best conserve that energy for yourself.
For me, especially in times of COVID-19, meaningful connection with friends means long walks outside, sharing photos via text messaging, and talking about something substantial. I mean, I don’t want another “Hey, how’s it going?” that leads to absolutely nothing. Rather, I want to know your opinions on the time-space continuum, I want to see pictures of your dog at home, I want to know how you’re hoping to make the world a better place. So, instead of trying to make more connections with people, make a resolution to figure out the kind of connections that would serve you well, and then make them. You, and the people around you, will benefit from this.
2. Check in with yourself to see if you are “people-d out” — then act accordingly.
The ”introvert hangover” creeps up on me by surprise. Why, I ask myself after a long day, am I feeling terrible? Well… I spent all day yesterday working in my people-y teacher job, came home and spent time visiting relatives, then visited and visited a bit more — until I was ready to drop. I barely had a chance to spend time with myself, or a chance to slow down, process my day, and listen to my own thoughts.
No wonder I feel terrible!
My body, I’m learning through mindfulness, is actually full of cues about the introvert hangover coming on. I can learn to listen to these cues: Do I start to get tired or spacey around people? Am I forcing myself to smile when all I want to do is bury myself in a book? How long has it been since I’ve had a bit of silence?
Your body probably gives you all sorts of cues that you’re tired, too. That you need some time to yourself. And it’s really, really easy to ignore these cues.
Instead, make a resolution to check in with yourself, especially in social situations. Ask: Is this fun? Am I enjoying myself? How does my physical body feel in this situation? Can I create meaningful connections here? If the answer is no, well, you know what to do.
On the other hand, if you’re one of the lucky ones who is totally comfortable saying “no” left and right — which is not easy for some of us introverts — check in about that, as well. Ask: Am I isolating? Is this helpful? Am I craving connection? There’s no right or wrong answer as to how much time you spend with other people, but checking in with yourself can help you find boundaries and balance.
3. If you need time alone, own the decision to change your mind about your plans.
Ugh, I said yes to hanging out Friday night, and now Friday night is rolling around and… I just don’t feel like it. But I said I would, so I have to, right?
Nope. Introvert, you are absolutely not obligated to fulfill any promises you made earlier in the week. No obligation whatsoever. I know you probably don’t want to disappoint anyone, but you need to listen to yourself, and your limits, too.
If you need time by yourself, take time by yourself. This year, own the decision to change your mind about your plans. That said, if you’ve scheduled a lot of quiet time and you’re starting to feel lonely, there’s absolutely no shame in reaching out to join a Zoom party last-minute.
It often feels like the world moves faster than my overthinking brain can process it — and then, bam, my Friday night is filled with social commitments I barely remember agreeing to. Rather than settling for something that happened too fast for you to think about it, reframe changing your mind. It’s not flakey. Instead, think: Changing my mind is assertive and I’m proud of my ability to express myself.
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4. Ditch social media (and other surface-level connections).
Social media is way up there with surface-level connections. It’s also way up there with time-sucking technology that pulls my valuable time literally right out of my fingers and into my phone screen.
For this next year, think about how you use social media. Are you engaging in meaningful conversations with friends who you care about? If so, hooray! If you’re scrolling through photos of people you barely know, feeling green with envy — well, then consider not looking at social media. Yes, it takes a bit of time to break the habit, but try by starting small. Try a 10-day social media detox and decide what you can’t live without. For me, I just need to be able to send texts — and temporarily ignore the rest.
5. Believe in — and use — your introvert superpowers, like listening and being creative.
The world is still catching up to how absolutely, totally, completely awesome introverts and quiet people are. Make 2022 the year that you, too, start believing in how amazing you are and use your introvert superpowers to capacity.
For example, introverts are creative and make great writers, listeners, and artists. We are observant, so we are usually very attuned to what’s going on in the lives of others. We also make the best friends, since we listen authentically and really, really care about our friendships.
6. Get in touch with your thoughts and feelings through journaling.
It’s no secret that introverts make fantastic writers. There are many benefits to being in touch with your feelings through journaling. Spend even just 10 minutes journaling each day and you’ll become more mindful and see how you’re really feeling about things.
All you have to do is find — or schedule — a time that works for you; set aside 5-10 minutes and write. You can write about anything you feel like. Unlike conversation, there’s no one listening or judging or interrupting you to say something totally unrelated to what you were saying. Your journal is just for you.
7. Schedule alone time so you get enough peace and quiet each day.
Wow, I think, yet again it’s the end of the day and I’m exhausted. I haven’t had a minute to myself. Sound familiar?
For many of us, it’s all too familiar. We just want some peace and quiet, but the world gets in the way. Work, social commitments, more work, school… I can’t even hear myself think. I also know I’ve had too much overstimulation when I can’t sleep at night — it’s like my brain has forgotten how to turn off.
If it feels like you never have a moment to yourself, get out that brand new 2022 calendar and schedule some me-time. For me, the morning works: I get up early, do half an hour of yoga, read, and meditate. If I skip this morning routine, there’s a chance I might not have any time just for me for… the rest of the day. Ooof.
So get out that calendar. Where can you schedule some alone time? Mark it with a pen and keep it, just like you’d keep a work commitment or one to a friend. You’re important, you deserve time to yourself. You’re not letting anyone down by having alone time. In fact, doing what you need to do to be the best version of yourself is assuredly helping you. It’s one of the healthiest habits in existence. And that’s admirable. Happy New Year, introvert! Let’s ring in 2022. Separately. Alone. By ourselves. But let’s also ring in 2022 knowing there’s a really wonderful community of other like-minded introverts, a community who doesn’t ever need to actually know you in person, but who has got your back.