Why I no longer make New Year’s Resolutions
If you make new year’s resolutions and keep them, this post may not be for you. If you are in the 80% who make them but have trouble keeping them, keep reading. Every year making resolutions reminds me of that Naked Eyes song of the 80’s.
You made me promises promises You knew you'd never keep Promises promises Why do I believe
While I may be showing my age, the reality is that resolutions are hard to keep. The word itself is very demanding and tends to lead to failure and possible depression and negative view of ourselves.
Some of the most common resolutions are as follows:
1. Be less stressed
2. Get out of debt
3. Lose weight/gain muscle
4. Eat healthy
I have always found this time of the year full of hope and promise of what could be. I think that is natural. Often by January 16th I had given up on my new goals and felt like a failure. Like many others I would beat myself up for failing one more year. There are several problems with this.
1. My thinking is based on a bad assumption.
It assumes that there are special times to change our behavior or begin something new. It is magical thinking. The reality is that change can happen whenever. You don’t need a new year, new month, new week or even a new day to start. What matters most is that you start.
I also sometimes hear people say, “I wish I had chose ________ as my new year’s goal. Next year that’s what I will do.” When we think there is a magic time for goals, we limit ourselves. This kind of thinking doesn’t allow for grace, self-forgiveness, learning, or readjusting. If you feel like you should have a different goal, change it.
2. My goals are often too lofty.
A resolution is a demanding thing. “I resolve that I will….” This tends to lead to some “mountain top goal” if you are me. It needs to be something worthy of my resolve. I have learned that it works better for me to set intentions. An intention is a smaller step toward something that may be larger. It is more achievable and realistic.
A resolution: I will get healthy and lose 50lbs.
An intention: I will increase hydration to my body by drinking 32 ounces today.
3. Resolutions focus on what is wrong with me or my life. It is a negative way of thinking about myself and often yields negative results.
Most resolutions force us to think about what is wrong with us. I get that the goal is to better ourselves, so why shouldn’t that include being better to ourselves. We are human and we will mess up. How we treat ourselves matters. It affects how we feel about ourselves, treat others, and etc. The University of California, Berkeley did a study that showed that the kinder we treated ourselves, the kinder we treated others. This research led to a book on the topic (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, Dr. Kristin Nueff).
Intentions focuses on making choices that bring you more joy and peace. It focuses on welcoming and keeping the good into your life, while still allowing you to better yourself. There is an emphasis on self-kindness and self-encouragement which studies also show are more effective than beating up or berating ourselves. In addition, as you feel better about yourself, you are more likely to see and appreciate your progress. You will be more likely to add intentions and keep them.
So what do you intend to do today, tomorrow or this year?