Happy New Year!
I have always had a love/hate relationship with New Year’s resolutions. There have been years when I’ve made some really good ones and kept them. There’ve also been years where I’ve blown my resolution at about one minute past midnight on January first. Then there have been those years where my resolution has been not to make any resolutions at all. And as I’m learning quickly, there are times when not making any New Year’s resolutions just may be a good thing.
New Year’s is such a stressful time of year. For me, it’s even more stressful than Christmas because it comes at the end of the holiday season. By this time many of us have spent a week or two (or more) eating too much, spending too much, perhaps indulging in too many cups of cheer, and spending too much time around people we’d normally avoid like the plague (aka well-meaning relatives). Sound familiar?
It leads one to ask the question — why did anyone ever think that New Year’s Day was the best time to start making lifestyle changes if they wanted a snowball’s chance in the tropics of success? That has to be one of the world’s unsolved mysteries, at least in my mind.
And let’s face it — for the majority of people making resolutions to do things like lose weight, get out of debt or quit smoking (three of the most popular New Year’s resolutions) we are talking about serious lifestyle change.
This is something that should be done with planning, forethought, and clear intentions. It’s a true goal for improving your life and it should be given the consideration a major lifestyle change deserves. It’s not something you dive into because it’s the first thing that came to mind at the New Year’s Eve party when you were asked what your resolution for the New Year would be.
Another reason why not setting a New Year’s resolution can be a good thing is because it should be something that you choose for yourself. It’s very hard to set a clear goal about what’s best for your life when you’re being pestered and pressured by those well-meaning friends and family. Negative pressure to maintain the status quo can be just as damaging to your well-being as being urged to make changes. And we all know how hard it can be for others who are not ready to make changes to accept the fact that you want to do something to improve your life that might leave them behind.
The bottom line is, it’s okay to not make a New Year’s resolution. Between the stress of the season and the pressure of people who “only want the best for you” (or at least their definition of it) sometimes you’re just better of waiting until all the hubbub from the holidays has died down. If you’ve thought about it, made your plans and decided that January first is the day you want to put your new plans into action, by all means go for it. But if you don’t and you’d rather wait until you are clear on your intentions, then not making a New Year’s resolution is a good thing.
When it comes down to it, every day gives you an opportunity to start a new year in your life. New Year’s Day as a holiday is just a mark on a calendar. Don’t get trapped into thinking that if you don’t quit smoking or start dieting on January first that you’re doomed to failure for the entire upcoming year. You can choose to make changes when they are right for you. Whether that’s January first or the middle of May, making a New Year’s resolution is your choice and that’s definitely a good thing.
Changing Habits Instead Of Setting New Year’s Resolutions
These days I’m so much more about changing habits instead of setting New Year’s resolutions. I even have the structure of a plan to help me get through everything I want to do this year.
One of the big reasons for taking this approach is that I find it much easier to do baby steps and change things a little bit at a time. The problem with New Year’s resolutions is that they always tend to be big things. For example, if I were making resolutions – this year’s would be lose weight, get out of debt, and buy a house. Those are huge goals, and pretty vague too.
Instead, I’m using everything I learned in Camp Clarity last year, and focusing on one thing at a time in order to really move forward.
I’m wholeheartedly embracing the philosophy of “one thing” combined with the philosophy of “small wins”? This means focusing on smaller, daily successes, rather than taking action which requires a much longer period of time before you achieve the desired result. And it means no more multi-tasking – focusing on getting the ONE THING done every day that’s the next logical step in moving me closer to achieving my goals.
This works because of the way your brain works.
Your mind rewards taking action on a plan. Your brain craves order, so when you tell it you want to accomplish something, then you take steps to reach that goal, and you succeed, feel-good chemicals are released by your brain. These endorphins and hormones cause feelings of positivity and self-esteem.
When you break a larger goal down into smaller pieces – your one thing’s — your daily “small win” successes mean a constant dose of pleasurable hormones and chemicals.
Subconsciously, you recognize how good you feel because of your sense of accomplishment. You want to feel that way again. When you continue to achieve smaller, bite-sized goals on a daily basis, you baby step your way to a larger goal realization, with frequent, daily feelings of success and well-being, as well as a boosted self-image.
So that might mean today my one thing is going to the gym. When that’s done I’ve moved myself one step closer to my goal of releasing 100 pounds and achieving ultimate health. It’s a much more user-friendly way of setting goals and achieving those huge resolutions, don’t you think?
So I have to ask… Did you make any big New Year’s resolutions? Or are you more of a small wins for big results person? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Thanks for being here, and Happy New Year!