If you are in the camp with so many others who have made resolutions this year let me first congratulate you. It’s a big deal to see that something may need to change in your life. It is hard enough to take a good look at your life, it is even harder to admit that you are doing something that could be done better. You might be one of the few people who have made a resolution with careful thought and consideration, if you are this will be irrelevant for you.
There are countless reasons making resolutions for the new year is a challenge not to be taken, here are a few of them:
1.) Any change worth making should not wait until the new year.
Lets be honest, our calendar is an arbitrary division of time. Sure it can be argued that the calendar is based off of some constant in the universe but there is nothing about the universe that says the new year should start in January and be in the middle of Winter. 2014 could have just as easily started in the middle of Summer instead. Now if you have carefully thought out your resolution, waiting until the clock strikes midnight seems like procrastinating – if your resolution (like so many) is to loose weight or eat better why not start with the next food choice you make? Procrastinating is just a way for humans to avoid pain, in this case the discomfort of making a hard decision. Time and time again research has shown that individuals who do something ‘cold turkey’ – giving up junk, starting an exercise routine, quitting smoking – are more successful than those who wait for Jan 1 to role around. We all know one day won’t make or break any of these goals, but putting it off one day starts a slipper slope of ‘one more day won’t hurt’, and then you are left in the planning stages unable to make the leap to action. As a friend of mine likes to say planning and talking don’t equal action. If you want to make a change – do it! You can always reevaluate and adjust accordingly.
Every year it seems to be inevitable that someone will ask you what your resolution is for the coming year, one year I decided to be a little bit of a smart ass and came up with my resolution is to stop making resolutions. Part of me meant it but it was just a more polite way to tell someone that it isn’t any of their business. There is an expectation in our culture that you have a resolution for making the next year the best year and the typical New Year’s festivities tend to involve friends, family, and drinking. Decisions to make life changes (big or small) are probably best made sober and not necessarily under the watchful eye of family and friends. Too many times my own resolutions have been to loose weight or save money. These answers are random, cliche, and vague, no wonder we have a hard time achieving these goals. The other problem with this is some people are happy as they are and don’t want/need to make a big change. Good for you, don’t make a resolution because it’s just what you do.
3.) Poor Planning
This is almost the exact opposite of how I ended point number 1, but it is equally as destructive. While being stuck in the planning phase and never taking action is a problem if your goal is too large and unrealistic you have already set yourself up to fail. Talk about the start of a downward spiral. If your goal is truly to loose weight in the new year, you should be able to answer how much, how do you plan to do it, what are the little goals you have in mind, what is the benefit you hope to see, etc. Having clear, measurable goals is an important part of being able to gage your progress. If I set a goal to loose 40 pounds, I better have a timeline that is feasible and smaller goals to meet along the way. It’s also helpful to have a clear picture of what you will get out of meeting your goal. What is motivating you? Is it fitting into the pile of clothes in the back of your closet, lowering your blood pressure, or maybe having an easier time walking up and down stairs? Great! Write it down, remind yourself in the mirror every morning, find an accountability partner to check in with regularly. Have a plan – and then start!
If you are one of the many who made a resolution this year, I wish you the best of luck on your journey. If you stumble every second is a new moment, you don’t have to wait until tomorrow to start over, or the start of the next week, month, or year. May the new year be everything you hope it to be.