I have such a love-hate relationship with New Year’s Resolutions. Part of me does enjoy the clean slate that a new year brings, and the chance to set intentions and goals is exciting and fun. However, a few weeks (or even days) into the new year, I feel like a failure as my aspirations for a new and improved self become more of a dream than a reality. As we wave goodbye to 2018 and begin to plan for a new year, I’ve started thinking that there has to be a better way to approach this whole business of New Year’s Resolutions. We should be able to capitalize on the excitement and newness the start of 2019 brings without dealing with the whole “I’ve let myself down” hangover that comes with the end of January. This year I’m taking a new approach to setting my New Year goals and the growth that will follow throughout the years. Here’s how I am approaching this year’s resolutions.
I'm not focusing on ”fixing myself.” Each year my list of resolutions becomes a summary of all my shortcomings and failures over the past twelve months. I ask myself what I need to fix in my life (lose weight, save more money, wake up earlier, etc.) and use the answers to write my intentions. Not only are these resolutions uninspiring, but they leave me feeling pretty horrible about myself. Not particularly the best way to kick-off a new year. This time around, my resolutions will focus less on trying to determine what’s wrong with me and change it and more on how I would like to continue to evolve. It feels a whole lot less depressing and intimidating. For example, instead of saying that I need to lose weight in 2019, I am going to make a resolution to work on forming a healthy relationship with food and exercise. Focusing on growth rather than on fixing a problem helps my resolutions feel a lot less negative and more achievable.
I’m going to be a little more realistic. I have a terrible habit of setting resolutions based on how everyone else says to live a successful life. I make goals to wake up early and workout, give up wine on weekdays and stop eating carbs, but... I'm so not a morning person, I love a glass of red wine in the evenings and pizza is something I need in my life. It’s time to put an end to resolutions that are unrealistic for me to keep and leave me feeling like a failure when I can’t commit. This year I’m serving myself a nice spoonful of reality and setting resolutions that fit with my lifestyle. Just because everyone else is getting up early for hot yoga, does not mean I need to do it to have a great 2019!
If I’m struggling with a resolution, I’ll ask why. It’s easy to chalk up a failed New Year’s resolution to a flaw in myself, but I’ve decided I'm doing the hard work this year. If I can’t seem to keep a resolution, I’m going to ask why it’s difficult. I may be forcing something I don’t enjoy or struggling with fear and shame.
Rather than walking away on the first attempt, I’m going to analyze the internal and external factor that are holding me back and work through the barriers. I’m not looking at the resolutions as a one attempt kind of thing, but instead an opportunity to try all different approaches.
New Year’s won’t be the only time for self-growth. Where’s the rule that says January 1st is the only time we get to set goals and intentions to work on ourselves? I’m taking the pressure off my resolutions by committing to checking in regularly on what’s working in life and what’s not. Yes, January has this way of feeling like a nice fresh start, but why not carry that energy over to every week, every month or every quarter? I still plan on thinking through resolutions at the beginning of the New Year, but I will do so knowing that the whole year has the opportunity for growth and self-reflection. New Year’s Resolutions get a bad rap. If we struggle to achieve the goals we set, we may feel like we aren’t good enough, strong enough or lacking some willpower that the rest of the universe has inside them. I don’t think this is true, and by taking a new approach to resolutions, I hope to capitalize on the excitement that is a new year, without heading down negative self-talk spiral by the end of January. ‘ How are you approaching your resolutions this year? Whatever works for you is best, and I hope the start of 2019 is fantastic!
Please note- I am not a mental health professional nor is any part of this blog professional advice. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis Text CONNECT to 741741 to talk with someone at the Crisis Text Line or call 1-800-273-8255.