New Year’s resolutions?
I don’t make them. I haven’t in years. They don’t work, they set us up for failure, and when we find ourselves NOT sticking to the diet, NOT adhering to the exercise routine, NOT finding more patience for our partners or our kids and so on… we often swing the other way.
As for resolutions like lose 10 pounds, read two books a month, exercise five times a week or anything that is quantifiable, aren’t we even more likely to miss the mark unless discipline – and in these examples, time – are an integral part of our lives?
No Resolutions? Then What?
Instead of resolutions, I consider areas of potential improvement and priorities that need redirection. I set goals, but not explicit or measurable targets that I will find myself struggling to attain when the unexpected hits. And that, of course, leads to feeling badly about myself, which in turn leads to bad habits.
What I’m really trying to achieve is bettering my life and my lot – without driving myself crazy in attempting to do it.
Read more, rather than read two books a month?
Sure. That one works.
Pay attention to what I’m eating?
Far better than obsessively over climbing on and off the scale (and resorting to emotional eating if the numbers refuse to budge).
Big Picture Improvements, Incremental Shifts
Better still is understanding broad-based needs that will, in turn, result in both broad-based and specific improvements.
For example, recognizing that I become intensely (dare I say passionately) involved in projects, both marketing and writing, one year I reminded myself to “maintain perspective.” In other words, not to get so caught up in the details of what I was working on that I wouldn’t see the forest for the trees – or for that matter, forget to eat and sleep!
A few years ago, in looking at how my time was divided over the course of the previous 12 months, I set myself the objective of “greater focus” in the year to come.
Other examples include taking more risk, and in general, upping my level of self-care, which was a particularly gnarly problem for me during the years I was raising my boys on my own.
A Recurring Theme: Self-Care
More recently, “balance” was a goal, with a subtext of reminding myself that sleep and exercise were vitally important to offset the long hours that I work.
Looking back, I recognize how frequently the reminders of self-care have been a requirement. This isn’t unusual for women who are mothers, certainly not among the women I’ve known over the years. But I also see progress, though likely not enough.
Still, by offering myself guidelines that are applicable in many areas of my personal and professional life – I sometimes write my phrase on paper which I then tape to a kitchen cabinet – I am not setting myself up to fail. Rather, I am gently guiding myself along a healthier path.
Do This vs. Don’t Do That
One of the elements I have observed in this practice over (now) many years: I choose a positive phrase for a positive action or mindset. My guideline is “do this” or “remember that” rather than “don’t do this” or “don’t do that.” If you ask me, none of us responds well to being instructed not to do something.
On the other hand, achievable, incremental change – without judgment and positioned in a positive or neutral manner – can be helpful in nudging us to better advocate for better selves.
Even with inner dialog, the soothing and encouraging voice is far more motivating than the critic, don’t you think?
Live Kindly, Live Fully, Live Well
As always, my goal is to live kindly, to live fully, and to live well, which is not, for me, about material things. It is, however, about quality of life and greater security in ways that are fundamental… and yes, fun. It is also about my personal value system, which means getting out of my own head, out of my own way, and giving – in the ways that I can.
Naturally, I have a few items in mind for the coming year. I may choose one or I may choose two. And no, I won’t say what they are just yet, but I’ll keep you posted.
Do you make resolutions? Do they work for you? Have you adopted an alternative practice as you enter a new year?
Please remember: Stay safe! Find a designated driver and if need be, and a designated texter as well!
You May Also Enjoy