It’s the start of another new year. A time to set big goals and to maybe makes some changes in your lifestyle. Many of us set New Year’s resolutions that come with big sacrifices or demand massive changes to our current lifestyle – making these resolutions not only difficult but practically impossible. However, challenging these resolutions are, the one thing they do in the short-term is give us hope and anticipation in a time when we’re experiencing the holiday let-down. The holiday let-down or post-holidays blues is a real part of life for many of us, so these resolutions we set, regardless of the unlikelihood of achieving them, do give us something to strive towards. Now you can Google “the benefits of New Year’s resolutions” and come up with pages and pages of search results in favor of and against resolutions. And yes, we see both sides to the arguments for and against setting New Year’s resolutions – so we want to think about this in a different way. Instead of setting big goals that are tied to a specific outcome, it’s time to think of how you want to feel and what you want to experience during this new year. When we switch our focus from actual results to the act of doing or performance, it becomes much easier and possible to be successful. In this blog post, we take a different look at New Year’s resolutions, one that we hope can help set you up for good mental and physical health through-out the year.
Put an End to Wholesale ChangeWe’ve all done it at the start of the new year- we’ve taken a look in the mirror and decided we need to change everything. This means we throw all our efforts into make every day different and supposedly better than last year. Eating better, cutting out junk food, exercising every day, going to bed earlier, being more productive at work, calling our friends, writing letters, volunteering more, and just generally doing everything perfectly. This type of resolution hasn’t worked out so great. In fact, it sets you up for complete and total failure. The major problem with resolution setting is that we simply ask and expect too much of ourselves. For some reason, we have attached January 1st as the day when we’ll have the willpower, motivation, and gumption to do everything better. So, the first thing you need to do for 2019 is to drop this idea that you can give yourself a complete makeover. This is too much to ask of yourself.
How to Set New Year’s ResolutionsWhen you set or think about your new year’s resolutions the best thing you can do is drop the word “should”. For example, I should lose 10 lbs. by February 15th, I should run for one hour seven days a week, or I should cook every meal at home and stop eating out. The problem with these statements is that they put a lot of pressure on you to do more, be better, and to accomplish very challenging goals – with zero room for flexibility. The first few days might go great but then real life gets in the way and it becomes too hard to stick to the new rigid expectations you’ve placed on yourself. The end result being that you give up on your resolutions – and feel like a failure. Do the following to set New Year’s resolutions that you can feel good about:
- Make a list of all the things that made you happy last year. From this list, what do you want to do more of this year? Maybe you really enjoyed meeting up with your Tuesday night run club, so find out if the group meets on Saturdays and add in a second group run each week. Or maybe you really enjoyed hosting your book club get together, so look for other ways you can have friends over for casual get togethers. These kinds of resolutions are achievable because they’re activities that give you pleasure and don’t have sacrifice tied to them.
- Think of five things you’d like to accomplish this year. These can be anything such as: learning a new language, losing weight, being more active while living with arthritis, or travelling more. You can see that these are very broad accomplishments – to make them doable, break them down into small tangible steps that you can actually accomplish.
- Dream big and write down your huge pie-in-the-sky goals. Now, choose one and start chipping away at how you can accomplish this goal. Maybe your big goal is to hike the Appalachian Trail – so start small with joining a local hiking group, then going for overnight hikes, weekend-long hikes, and slowly building from there until you’ve given yourself the experiences, knowledge, and tools that you need to accomplish your ultimate goal.