I made a New Year’s resolution to post this by January 2. Crap.
Have you noticed that people are either totally for or totally against New Year’s Resolutions?
I think it goes deeper than whether resolutions work or not, or whether we should make them or not. I’ve definitely been in the “new year’s resolutions are a waste of time” camp for quite a while, but I’ve changed my tune and here’s why…
The reason most New Year’s resolutions don’t work is the same reason diets and quick fixes don’t work–they’re too big a behavior to take on all at once. Most people go with a resolution like: “I’m going to go to spin class 5 days a week starting now!” when before December 31 they weren’t ‘spinning’ at all. Guess what: Too much too soon.
I’d rather someone get beneath the surface of the spin class resolution and find out what their actual goal might be, like having more energy, more vitality, and reaching a healthy weight. Now we’re talkin’ about a New Year’s Resolution. A goal that defines who you truly are deep down, and a goal that is actually achievable long-term if you approach it as a small stepper. A small stepper goes deep to figure out what changes they want in their life and then takes manageable steps to get there.
Thinking about New Year’s resolutions can be both an excellent opportunity to discover areas in your life that you’d like to improve, and a way to engage in the process of actually making sustainable change by finding out what you’re able and willing to take on. This is the way you avoid the burnout, failure, and undo stress of more typical, unachievable New Year’s Resolutions. Resolutions that set you up for failure rather than resolutions that set you up for increased health and happiness.
So, before you make a resolution to lose 30 pounds, try thinking about the resolution you really want to make. Then, set about making a long term plan to work toward this goal. Ease your way in, find activities that bring joy into your life. Is your (small stepper) resolution to exercise? Is one squat per day super easy? Then start there. Very quickly you’ll be a person who exercises most days, at which point you can turn the one squat to two, two to four, four to a five minute walk, and so on…until? Boom. Time for a new New Year’s Resolution!
Of course we want to live better as soon as possible, but taking on too much and burning out does the opposite of getting us closer to this as a reality. New Year’s Resolutions do work, but only when they’re made from a place of self-consideration, self-kindness, self-care, and a clear understanding of what it means for each of us to be healthier and happier.
Subscribe to my YouTube Channel! | Donate to the Podcast | AtN Podcast Merch | Approaching the Natural: A Health Manifesto |