First of all before I go into what I want to write about please excuse any typos or grammatical errors for I am currently writing this on my phone and unfortunately it is the only way to have this posted before the week is through. …. Now on to the topic at hand…
Yup I said it, New Years Resolutions are BS. “But Heather,” you say, “ I have, or I know someone who has, been successful sticking to and accomplishing New Year’s resolutions!” To that I say both kudos/well done and those weren’t resolutions. Those were goals.
I know it seems like a big groan worthy, po-tay-to/po-tah-to semantics kind of thing. But it’s not. The thing is resolutions most often are amorphous statements! This year I will change!… This year I will be better!… Or if it’s not amorphous sometimes it’s just asking too much… This year I am going to the gym 3 times a week every week without time off for any reason!!…(Meanwhile you’ve never set foot into a gym… and you are asking yourself to bundle up in the coldest months to go sweat in front of other people then go bundle back up and trudge through the possibly snowy weather back home…. For some of you who have previously gone to the gym but just weren’t as dedicated, maybe this makes sense. For some of you who go stir crazy in the winter and will look for any way to not be home, sure the gym is a good goal… for the rest of us… that seems like an unrealistic expectation.) But
Yea it seems like the odds are stacked against us, I mean I’ve read articles that have said that statistically and approximately 80% of all New Years resolutions are not kept in general and that most fail before January is through! Yikes!
But what about that 20% well those people were probably driven type of people, had simple resolutions, and/or really had made a goal that was disguised as a “resolution”!
But If there is something you want that normally you would state as a resolution I am certainly NOT suggesting that you don’t even try. I’m saying that if you truly want to stick to something and make that change (and I know it’s tough because I backslide a lot myself and have only been successful in some goals and not others… remember I am on this journey with you!) … I am saying to create goals instead…
Resolutions fail us because…
1-January February March are some of the coldest and darkest months of the year (at least in the US)… Our bodies naturally want to hibernate and pack on pounds… and eating seasonally we would be eating more heartier foods that tend to keep us more naturally insulated. The darker colder months with the lack of sunlight and the withdrawal of the sparkly wonder of the holidays, well they can seem long and depressing… this is not the time to be super restrictive and mean to yourself. (Which many resolutions can be… now adding exercise could help by keeping us warm and adding those happy endorphins but I will get into that later)
2-resolutions are too huge, too big in scope, or amorphous… The way we treat resolutions we state our ideal self and just say “go!” And that is like waking up one day and saying “I’m going to do the tour du France” and you haven’t rode a bicycle since you were 8, have no money to travel there, and have never been able to do any strenuous activity for more than 10 minutes. Not realistic.
3-sometimes when we try to form our resolutions into what seems like a goal, we hold ourselves to unrealistic expectations such as going to the gym every day or “I’m just going to stop that bad habit when the clock strikes midnight.” When we do not allow ourselves buffers and hold ourselves to impractical ideals, we often mentally berate ourselves when we fail which creates a downward spiral and almost always leads to throwing in the towel.
4- we make resolutions on the perceived perception of who we should be or the expectations of others. If deep down the resolution you are making has nothing to do with who you really want to be but who you believe you should be then you are never going to actually achieve those goals. Figure out what you truly want before you set out on your specific journey. (The only time you need to really listen to someone else’s ‘should’ for you, is if something is truly unhealthy like your doctor says you are going to die if you don’t quit smoking or your loved ones have all spoken to you about your alcoholic behaviors… and so on, at that point start working on that stuff now not wait for New Years ).
5- we don’t do the homework. If you’ve always failed at something how can you expect to change merely by saying “this year will be different”? You need to be prepared to do the digging and deep work. There could be limiting beliefs. There could be other underlining factors of why you have previously not succeeded. Also you could think that others have achieved their goals by doing things a certain way but you never really found out how so you do things based upon assumptions… research is key. You want to have strong muscles find out the proper way to lift… you want to learn a skill find the right books, teachers, or classes etc.
So yes set goals! Attempt to make the changes you want in your life! But blanket resolutions aren’t the way to make that happen.
Now what you can do!
1- Write down what you truly want for yourself don’t be afraid to dig deep. Focus on what you can truly change and achieve. (Successful goals are dependent on yourself not on other people.)
2- break things down into smaller more detailed goals and possibly simpler increments and see what you can definitely commit to… if you think “well that is too easy shouldn’t I work harder than that?” that is almost always where to start such as I can walk for five minutes every day! Well if you aren’t and you eventually want to walk 40 minutes a day, then start with walking 5 minutes! (a goal shouldn’t have to ejector seat you out of your comfort zone… long lasting change begins with a little push)
3- realize that in the cold winter months it’s easier to add something than take away something. For example if your goal is to be healthy and in shape, maybe first commit to drinking more water and commit to exercising a few minutes each day instead of eliminating all carbs or not having even a sip of soda… first adding will slowly replace the bad and no matter what it was more than you were doing. (If you want to eradicate something from your life then focus on healthy things to replace it with and possibly wait until Spring when the body will be more apt to handle a withdrawal or major change)
4-set goals for the entire year instead of one big crazy goal or lots of little goals that start at the stroke of midnight. Be aware of how you act seasonally. Like above with adding exercise in the winter, when we begin to shed the winter clothing to spring that’s when you can start completely eliminating sweets etc. if you know that the cold makes you want to sleep in then add your exercise in the evening. If you know that the gloomy winter would be more gloomy without hot cocoa then allow yourself some hot cocoa)
So to recap…
Example of a resolution:
This year I’m going to be healthy
Example of a goal:
This year I will get healthy by:
Yes I’m serious. I know it looks intense but that is what works. (You don’t have to share all the details with everyone but that’s how you do it. If you truly want to share your “resolution” with others but don’t want to give all the details you can tell people “I have set goals to achieve better health”.) But yes… That is what works. Change is hard even when it’s change you want. You get used to old comforts and patterns. Motivation is something that comes from being committed to your goals and succeeding even without motivation not the other way around. Most people don’t stick to resolutions because it’s just the ideal. If you don’t really care about making permanent changes for yourself then go ahead and make as many resolutions as you want…. However, If you do want to change then what you need are detail orientated goals!
Also this applies to other goals not just getting healthy…. (It doesn’t matter if you want to write more, learn a language, travel more, save more money, quit something, whatever….) I focused on health orientated resolutions because that tends to be the major theme, as well as one I have personally struggled with and am using what has worked on other goals for myself and on this goal for others to help with my own desire to be healthier. So thus the health tailored examples. But any detailed orientated plan with realistic expectations and wiggle room for mistakes will ultimately help you succeed in making the changes you want for the year (and possibly years) ahead.
Now go ahead and tell 2019 that you got this!!!
Oh and Happy New Year thanks for reading! And look for more You Got This posts in 2019!!!!
(I know this post feels naked without links… I may do a follow up with resources, we will see… also I know I never did a Childfree Couple Christmas post… however I plan to have that for next Christmas as I am still cultivating resources)