Welcome to the time of year when the societal pressure is on to create a new you: T’is the season of Weight Watchers commercials and ads for discounted home-gym equipment, magazine articles that focus on losing weight and getting in shape, offers in the mail for continuing education and getting out of debt, and it goes on.
But what’s wrong with the old you? And what difference does turning one page on the calendar really make towards our life goals? Is the first day of a new year really a magical re-set button for your personal wellness?
New Year Resolutions are deeply entrenched in our society’s traditions. Many of you make a long list at the start of every year, of things that you feel you should do differently, hoping that by writing them down somewhere, this will be the year that those changes stick. Things such as:
- Get in shape
- Quit smoking
- Be more generous
- Find a job that makes me happy
- Travel more
- Get out of debt
- Drink more water
- Get more sleep
- Lose weight
In principle, New Year Resolutions are a great idea. Having goals, such as any in the above list, is very healthy and motivates you to do better and to make more of yourself. They can help you get back to your routines, which are so often lost through the holiday season, and help you prioritize what is important in your life. Lots of people make their resolutions public, through social media for example, hoping that it will keep them accountable to themselves now that they have made their thoughts known to others.
But according to Statistic Brain, only 8% of Americans keep their New Year Resolutions. Just like business objectives, resolutions fail for many reasons:
- You are not specific enough, leaving too much leeway;
- You make them too complicated or too numerous;
- You are too hard on yourself when you stray and then just quit, instead of starting over or perhaps modifying the Resolution;
- You expect too much too soon and, like when trying to lose weight, without immediate results, you lose your drive and quit;
- You write them down somewhere and then never look at them again!
You set these goals for yourself, and then either forget about them or just give up altogether, and then feel badly that you have let yourself down… again! Why do you consistently put so much pressure on yourself when life is hard enough externally? Through such unrestrained optimism, you force yourself into idealism, only to end up more stressed with the person you think you should be rather than the one you are now. You shame yourself by your own hands.
Anti-resolution Trends for 2017
There is an overwhelming trend these days to avoid making New Year Resolutions altogether. Society is trending away from being ritualistic and more towards realistic.
Many of you feel that making resolutions is counter-productive. Because the majority of people don’t keep them, you are simply setting yourself up for disappointment. And then when you fail at these goals, you feel badly about yourself and your self-esteem is only lowered even further.
Throughout the year, you see much sadness and turmoil, global catastrophes and negative news stories, thanks to the media and now through social media. There tends to be much more focus on negative stories over positive ones. You become reflective upon the world around you and upon yourself, which fuels your need for change, or self-improvement, in order to gain some form of control. Often times, this accumulation of feelings gives you a collective wake-up call by the end of a calendar year and that propels the idea that with the calendar change comes change overall, when, in fact, that is not the case at all.
The start of a new year is not any form of magical re-set but instead just marks a single-step in the passage of time. It is a great time to remind yourself that you can only take life one day at a time. You have no control over anything outside of yourself and therefore you owe it to yourself to be kind and keep your life as simple as you can. Life will place enough hurdles in your way!
Four Tips for making New Year Resolutions
- Be Realistic – If you insist on making New Year Resolutions, keep them to a minimum and don’t give up with your first failure. Slow and steady wins the race, as the expression says, and the accomplishment of any goal is always a journey from which you should learn along the way. Write them down and reflect upon them often. If something is not working, either modify it or approach it from a new angle.
- Set goals – Another option is to make a list of goals, one for each month of the year, instead of trying to tackle all of your desires at one time. Work on one at a time and after a month, you will know whether you are ready to add the next one to your repertoire. Or perhaps instead of resolutions, choose a feeling or word on which to focus throughout the year which expresses your goal and build upon that.
- Forget ‘resolutions’ – But if you are among the majority who feel that New Year Resolutions are a thing of the past, or perhaps you just take issue with the word “resolution” itself, and you take a different approach to life with the start of a new year instead, you may have already achieved what the rest of us are so desperately trying to attain through making Resolutions: I am the best me that I can be, right here, right now.
- Seize every moment – Every day of the year is a chance to start again, to be a better person than you were yesterday, both to others and to yourself. You don’t have to wait for a new year to start working towards being healthier, kinder, smarter … that is the amazing thing about life with free will. You can make the choice when to seize the moment and make yourself the best you can be.
Healthy New Year!
So, what do you think: Resolution or No Resolutions? Post your answer below.
Well said. I especially liked the excerpt about feeling a lack of control, something which many of us can relate to. Society already places judgements and expectations on all aspects of our lives, and when we don’t measure up, we feel like we’ve let everyone else and ourselves down. This is so bloody stupid and self-defeating, yet we never seem to learn. New Years resolutions are the worst offender based on all that you’ve stated herein. Thank you for what you’ve written. Perhaps we’ll be kinder to ourselves and give ourselves a break for when we get moments of weakness.
Midland Health says
Glad you enjoyed the post, Catherine! A kinder, more healthy 2017 sounds wonderful. Thank you for reading!