Everyone knows what a New Year’s Resolution is or at least what it has turned into. A promise to make a change in the new year, typically either to make a positive lifestyle change or achieve a goal, that is worked on full force for all of maybe the first month of the year and then pushed off as not important. That is the problem. The idea of a New Year’s Resolution is so important and yet the importance is fleeting. So why is it important? The new year symbolizes a new start. It allows us a jumping off point to make a change that we have been thinking about for possibly years leading up to it. It gives us a clean slate. It gives motivation. Then why don’t they stick? Its so easy to lose that motivation once the excitement of the Holidays is over and we get back to the daily grind of work and responsibility, not to mention we don’t see the immediate results we are looking for. But losing that motivation and momentum set by a New Year’s resolution is giving up on ourselves. If the resolution to better ourselves or achieve a goal becomes less important then isn’t that saying that we become less important ourselves? And that is why so many resolutions fail. We can’t prioritize ourselves.
This year, change that pattern. Rather than set the typical resolutions of start working out, quit smoking, eat healthy, lose weight, watch 100 movies, read 10 books, etcetera; set a resolution to make yourself a priority. Make yourself matter! This is making a long term lifestyle change that will ultimately lead to the accomplishment and maintenance of the resolutions that you set year after year. Reframe the typical resolutions to make them important by making yourself important. Don’t set a goal of losing weight, set a goal of making yourself healthy. A goal of simply losing weight allows the rest of life to become more important and put that on the back burner. Making yourself healthy keeps this goal on the front burner because nothing else matters if you can’t be healthy enough to do it. So how do you set resolutions that matter? Here are some examples to help you make the changes that New Year’s Resolutions really stand for.
Lose Weight: make yourself healthier, lower blood pressure, lessen pain, increase energy, build self-esteem. Shifting the focus from the cosmetic to health turns this resolution from another fad diet to a lifestyle change that will build momentum as it makes you feel better rather than lose steam when you don’t immediately see the results you want. Starting it on the New Year gives you a jumping off point but also sets the end date for an entire year away, allowing slow, real, and lasting progress that can carry into years to come.
Exercise: build stamina and energy to engage in daily activities and improve overall health and well being. Lets face it, gym memberships are more often than not bought and forgotten in January. It seems great in theory and then life gets in the way. On the other hand, setting smaller goals to improve your overall health such as walking, yoga, or realistic gym attendance can allow you to keep going with your resolution to exercise. Deciding to go to the gym every day, not as realistic and will lead to burn out quickly. It’s important when setting exercise goals to make them realistic and build them in momentum. Small successes will allow you to see and feel results and keep you motivated throughout the year. Start with some exercises at home and build up to gym time a couple realistic times a week.
Quit Smoking: this one does not necessarily require reframing. Nobody will argue it is an important resolution; however, it must be attainable. Rather than going cold turkey, talk to a doctor about successful methods to quit. There are medication, programs, gums, and a variety of tools that can help wean away from the habit and encourage long term success.
Leave Work at Work/Spend More Time With Family: finding a better home/work balance. Having a balanced life is key to having a happy and healthy life. Our society puts so much emphasis on work that people struggle to leave it behind and engage in the rest of their lives. Making it your resolution to find better balance does not mean suddenly dropping the work phone and leaving work undone, but rather balancing the quality of time you spend at home with family, friends, or yourself. Disengage fully from work during that time rather than putting the emphasis on how much time.
Overall, it’s not as important what the resolution is, but why you are making it. A resolution that is made in haste or just because it’s the spirit of the holiday is likely to fail. A new year does mean a new start, but it doesn’t have to mean an extreme change. Take advantage of what the new year stands for. Use it to forgive regrets from the past year. Use it as motivation to make the changes that you have been thinking about. Focus on improving your quality of life and overall health. Invest in more than a diet but rather yourself. Make gradual changes that can last. A new year doesn’t have to mean a new you, but it can mean improving your focus on yourself and being the best version of you that you can be.