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7 Austen-Approved New Year's Resolutions



It’s that time of year again: we’re into a brand new January, fresh off the cuff of a resolution-filled New Year's Eve. That is, unless you're like me and couldn't figure out what resolutions to make.


I had a hard time coming up with resolutions this year, so I turned to one of the most inspiring women I know for some inspiration about how to better myself and the world in 2024. In the true spirit of the season, I want to share them with you all. Inspired by Jane Austen’s writing, here’s a list of 7 Austen-Approved New Year’s Resolutions.


 

“If adventures will not befall a lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad.” — Northanger Abbey


The first full-length novel Austen ever wrote, the posthumously-published Northanger Abbey explores Gothic tropes in a humorous way. The novel’s naive protagonist Catherine Morland finds herself journeying throughout England, making friends and enemies, and confronting her own expectations and tendency to jump to conclusions. Catherine’s character development comes as a result of this exposure to new societies and ideals. Even aside from character development, Catherine’s voyages introduce her to wonderful new environments, from the ball where she has her first dance to the manor that is surely haunted by the vengeful ghost of her suitor’s mother, who was obviously killed by her husband. Obviously.


Whether you venture abroad to a country you’ve never visited before or venture around the corner to that new restaurant you’ve been dying to try, let 2024 be the year of seeing new sights and going new places. I’m positive Austen would approve.


“Know your own happiness. You want nothing but patience—or give it a more fascinating name, call it hope.” — Sense & Sensibility


When we’re yearning for that perfect romance or toiling away to earn that promotion we so desperately need and deserve, it’s easy to forget about all the good things we have going for us. We find ourselves in the pits of despair and imagine that this is all life has to offer—sadness and grief. When Sense & Sensibility’s Edward Ferrars is experiencing this same dilemma, Mrs. Dashwood reminds him that he’s not alone in this feeling.


She’s absolutely right—we all have moments like this. The most important thing to remember, though, is that we are not alone—rarely ever in life are we truly alone—and that the future will bring happiness and hope. So whenever you’re feeling despair this year, try to remember that 2024 has so much more to offer you. Let Austen be the Mrs. Dashwood to your Edwards Ferrars, reminding you that time heals wounds and brings fortunes, if you’re willing to stick around.


“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” — Pride & Prejudice



Ah, Pride & Prejudice. Definitely the most famous—and likely the most beloved—of Austen’s novels. The romance between Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy is driven by their stubborn refusal to communicate with each other, because of their pride (!!) and prejudice (!!), and their happy ending doesn’t come until they finally admit that they’re in love with each other (after, of course, recognize the errors of their own ways and undergoing some serious character development).


Whether living out your very own enemies-to-lovers romance, hectic family life, or unexpected friendships, spare the people you love the stress—it is a truth universally acknowledged that people like to know they are loved, so be sure to share the love like Austen would’ve wanted in 2024.


“When I look out on such a night as this, I feel as if there could be neither wickedness nor sorrow in the world; and there certainly would be less of both if the sublimity of Nature were more attended to, and people were carried more out of themselves by contemplating such a scene.” — Mansfield Park


I think Mansfield Park’s Fanny Price is one of Austen’s most interesting heroines, especially because she directly follows the famed Elizabeth Bennet. Fanny is of low status, constantly looked down upon and ridiculed, yet still maintains her goodness and purity of character. Her lament that there would be less evil in the world if more people paid attention to nature is one that I think we should all take note of. In this digitized age—and especially now in the winter months—it can be easy to forget how important it is to stay connected with nature. We get caught up in our phones, our jobs, our relationships, and the rest of our busy lives.


In 2024, make sure to spend some time out in the sun, or in the water, or in the sky. Whether you take a hike, go for a swim, or even just sunbathe on your front lawn, spend some time outdoors. The stars in the sky have been there for hundreds of centuries. Austen looked at those same stars. We get to look at them with her.


“It’s such a happiness when good people get together.” — Emma


The eponymous protagonist of Emma spends her time surrounded by good people, and good company, and learning important lessons about life and character by spending time around them. Birds of a feather flock together, and we watch Emma Woodhouse go from one of a number of judgmental ravens to a kind, sympathetic, self-aware blue bird. By the end of the novel she’s a changed woman, largely thanks to the company she keeps—her interactions and observations inspire her to be better.


I won’t suggest that you meddle in all your friends’ love lives (as fun as playing Cupid sounds), but I do think it’s a good idea to spend your 2024 with good people who make you happy and make you the best you that you can be. I like to think Austen would agree with me.


“None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.” — Persuasion


Persuasion’s central conflict is driven by the fear of the uncertain—heroine Anne Elliot, in love with the valiant Captain Frederick Wentworth, is persuaded not to marry him because she may end up losing the security her current life (or a richer man) could afford her. I think we’re all like Anne Elliot, with two different well-meaning angels on each of our shoulders. On one shoulder stands the practical Lady Russell, telling us to do the safe and secure thing. On the other, stands the manifestation of the tiny voice in our heads that wants us to do the other thing, the one that is less safe but so much more rewarding.


Every once in a while in 2024, listen to that second angel. Do the thing that scares you, the one that’s uncertain, the one that’s thrilling. That’s how you find your Captain Wentworth—by venturing out of the safety of your comfort zone and trying new things. Explore new paths in 2024. Follow Austen down the roads less traveled.


“I shall eat ice and drink French wine and be above vulgar economy.” — from a letter to Cassandra


Thanks to our very own Susan Ford for suggesting this one! This quote doesn’t come from one of Austen’s novels, but instead from a letter she wrote to her sister, Cassandra, while staying at her rich brother Edward’s mansion. It’s a reminder that it doesn’t hurt to indulge every now and again. Don’t forget to treat yourself every once in a while in 2024.


 



If you’re still looking for a New Year’s Resolution, I hope you find one in this list. If not, I hope you take some of this advice, anyway. Whether you travel, spend time with nature, spend time with people you love, or do something daring, let 2024 be the year to live your life like someone Austen would’ve written.

3 Comments


Absolutely lovely post! I just wanted to point out (what I believe is) one small mistake. After the first quotation the author states that Northanger Abbey is "the first full-length novel Austen ever published." But overall this was a delight!

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That was jolly to read and be reminded of! I have been soothing myself with watching the less-recommended adaptations of Austen movies while I nurse my covid-ravaged body. You know how it is, we tend to watch our favorite adaptations over and over again and the less-favored languish in the dark recesses of the dvd shelf. It has been entertaining. Who knows? I may even give the modern Persuasion a spin on the player!

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Love these!

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