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Sheryl Lee Ralph on why she’s ditching new year’s resolutions: ‘I’m not doing it anymore. I’m just gonna be my best’

December 24, 2022, 11:00 AM UTC
Actress Sheryl Lee Ralph at the 1Dunkin' Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 24, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Gilbert Carrasquillo—GC Images

It’s Sheryl Lee Ralph’s moment. Not just because her decades’ long acting career continues to flourish, but because she revels in the holiday season. The Emmy-award winning star of Abbott Elementary, who describes herself as “compelled to work,” is taking this time to prioritize her family—and herself. Here’s how Ralph celebrates, rests, and reflects.

Fortune: What are your methods for protecting your peace this time of year?

Sheryl Lee Ralph: I’m all about protecting my peace. I just posted today that you do not always have to understand everything. You don’t have to understand everything. You don’t have to understand everybody. You have to hold on to your joy and remain focused. And that’s important. I remember that and that life is about choices. And I really live to make the best choices I can for myself.

Fortune: Making the best choices is tough for many of us. How do you prioritize rest when you feel compelled to work?

SR: That’s not that difficult for me. I am compelled to work, and that is why I know I need rest. I’m not one of those people that can get four to five hours of sleep. No, I need my seven to eight hours. And there have been days when I have laid down and I have not gotten up for 12 hours. When you don’t rest, it shows up in your body. It shows up in your attitude and it definitely shows up on your face. And I can’t have any of those things messed up.

That’s why I’ve got to rest. And then I always say if you’re gonna have cocktails, you have to have water. For every cocktail you have, you have to have a glass of water. Your body will thank you. You can have the champagne, but you just have to add some water—hot or cold. You have to celebrate properly. You have to celebrate in balance. You have to live your life in balance. Too many people get off balance and don’t know how to get back, and that’s the problem. Lack of balance will hurt you.

Fortune: Do you take time for year-end reflections? What does that look like for you?

SR: I reflect inwardly by talking to myself. I might make lists or put things down in a notebook. But what I don’t do is say ‘This is what I’m going to change, or this is what I’m not going to do.’ I said what I’m really going to do is live my life to the best of my ability once again, because with that I have very little regret.

Fortune: What about comparison traps? 

SR: I never compare, and I don’t compete because the only person that loses is you. You lose every time when you can compare and compete with anybody. I love me. I love me just the way I am, and I’m happy with that.

Fortune: Do you make New Year’s resolutions? 

SR: No, I’m not into that whole resolution thing. You write these things down, then you forget about them, or you don’t change your habits and you do the same thing. I said I’m not doing it anymore. I’m just gonna be my best.

Fortune: Do you put together a vision board or do any kind of visualization for the new year?

SR: I have this jar with a top on it, and I’ll write things down on sticky notes. Things that I would like to see happen, that I would like to work on, and I put them in the jar. I might go into the jar and pull out one of those sticky notes to see what I have achieved. What have I done? What have I been able to do? It’s been amazing to see how many of them I’ve actually achieved.

Fortune: Can you remember the last thing you put in your sticky jar?

SR: I won’t tell you, but it was golden.

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