Another year came and went, and I feel like last year’s resolutions mostly fell by the wayside. Maybe my recent year sounds a lot like yours: you started the year well intentioned with several New Years Resolutions in mind ready to be tackled. Only to find yourself watching the ball drop thinking that maybe you didn’t quite live up to the expectations you had set for yourself. You didn’t exercise any more than the year before, you didn’t lose any more weight, you didn’t quit smoking, and you definitely didn’t cut down on your stress levels! You had the whole year planned out, down to your daily routine! So what gives?
A lot of people spend their years just like me: trying to accomplish a task they’ve given themselves a year to complete in the attempt to make themselves a better or different person. Over the last few years I’ve realized that New Year’s resolutions are not all what they’re cracked up to be! Nine times out of ten, I end up not being able to sustain my “resolutions” for the whole year anyway, so this year, I’ve decided the New Year’s Resolution just isn’t for me. Forgive my cynicism, but this year I’m not buying into the “New Year, New Me” attitude, and here’s why.
Honestly, when was the last time you made a new year’s resolution that you actually enjoyed all year long? Most resolutions tend to be centered around health: eating better, working out more, cutting out added sugars from your diet, etc.. But how long do those resolutions truly last? Circumstances are obviously different for everyone, but for me, the resolution always falls through because it stopped being fun. This is not to say that my goals fall through, just the resolution. And the truth of it is, when I set a “resolution” for myself, it becomes a chore. Thinking about if I made a resolution to chase my faith more, or clean more, or workout more, the fact that I’ve put a year limit on this goal suddenly makes this a simple task that just serves to fill a space on my to do list.
And unfortunately when you put a capped timeline on a goal that’s designed to make you a better person, it seems to only exist within that timeframe you’ve given yourself. In other words, it doesn’t make for lasting change. This is possibly most easily seen at gyms across the country come New Year’s Day. January 1st, the gyms are all packed. There is not an elliptical, rowing machine, or treadmill free in sight, and the free weight section is so crowded you couldn’t throw a blender bottle without hitting someone in the head. It seems everyone has made that resolution to work out more, eat less, and finally get fit. But as January turns to February, turns to March, turns to April… suddenly there are more free machines than occupied ones, and the free weight section has turned to a ghost town. See, when you put a chore on a to-do list, suddenly it doesn’t seem all that important to complete. To-do lists can be remade, and in the famous words of my husband, “Why do today what you can put off to tomorrow?” When your resolution becomes a chore, it doesn’t make for lasting change – it makes for something else on your plate that looks more like a time sucker than an actual activity meant to benefit you. No matter how great your intentions are, more often than not, people will fall through on their resolutions when they see them as unimportant as the rest of their lives.
And unfortunately we blink and find ourselves in the middle of June having not tackled any of our goals and really not having rolled up our sleeves at all to try to dive in. When I find myself staring at a failed resolution halfway through the year, I have this incredibly sharp sense of failure lingering around my mind. I feel lazy, undisciplined, and disappointed with myself for not having been able to keep my own promises. If you’ve ever struggled with self-doubt, you know how quickly this can turn to self-loathing, and frankly what positivity has self-loathing ever brought you?
So this year, I’m passing on the New Year’s Resolution. Of course I have goals, I have things I want to do this year, and I have changes I want to make to myself. But instead of giving myself all of 2017 to accomplish these goals, I’m taking it much slower it, and giving it a different name. I want to feel better, I want to work out more, and I want to chase my faith better/more frequently. So instead of making a resolution to work out three times a week and take my vitamins and pray and take more time for readings and consultation and groups, I’m taking it one day at a time. In fact I’m going so far as to take it one moment at a time. I know that every choice I make during my day helps me create new habits and feel good about myself and my plan. So instead of keeping a single resolution for a year’s time, I’m weighing my every decision against my vision of a better me. Instead of holding myself to a goal with an arbitrary timestamp on it, I’m going for lasting change that begins and ends and with my every moment’s decisions.
There will be no resolution for me this year, because the changes I want to make for myself need to last more than 365 days. This year there will be no resolution stress and there will be no feelings of failure. Instead, with any luck and all of the discipline I can muster – I’ll make this year a great one. Without a resolution.