5 Ways To Think Differently About New Year’s Resolutions
Do you begin each January with a list of new year’s resolutions, only to find them tossed aside in a couple months?
Let’s Talk About New Year’s Resolutions
As the calendar brings us to a new year and new decade, we often find ourselves looking back over our lives and contemplating ways we might want to do things differently going forward.
This process of reflection can be immensely helpful in our personal growth. And I personally find that as I age, my new year’s resolutions have changed. They include more about experiences and spending time with loved ones, as well as putting my own needs on the list.
I’m a big fan of self-reflection, (without harsh judgment of course!,) but so many people wrestle with whether or not they should even make resolutions.
Should You Make New Year’s Resolutions?
This is a question only you can answer, but here are my 5 ways you can think differently about New Year’s resolutions:
1. New Year’s Resolutions Are Optional.
I know how easy it is to get guilted into making resolutions. Co-workers, friends and family, and the media are all pushing hard on making resolutions right now. Before you decide on whether or not you’ll make formal resolutions this year, reflect on whether you’ve found them helpful in the past. Have they resulted in crazy, restrictive diets? Or unsustainable workout routines? If you find that resolutions don’t make you physically AND mentally healthier, you have my permission to skip them this year.
2. Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions More Than They Are.
Resolutions aren’t laws. They are aspirations and hopes for the year. But, if you tend to be perfectionistic and think in black and white terms, you might struggle with flexibility and find your resolutions to be a source of stress. Don’t let them take on a life of their own. Even if you only meet a few of your goals, you have still done something new in the year.
3. Make Your Resolutions Consistent with Your Core Values.
This one is a biggie! So often, resolutions can be contagious. We hear someone else’s resolutions and we think, ‘great idea!’ and then add them to our list. But, we all know that taking on something that doesn’t speak to the core of our being is not sustainable in the long run. What are your values? When we live our lives consistent with our personal values, we tend to be happier and more fulfilled. Not sure what your values are? Take some time to reflect on what matters most in your life. And if you need some assistance, one resource I really like is Russ Harris’ (author of The Happiness Trap) Values Checklist.
4. Strive to Make Resolutions That Add To Your Life.
So often, resolutions focus on ridding our lives of things or habits. But, did you know that research shows us that it’s often easier to choose a new behavior than to get rid of an old one. You see, old habits can be so ingrained in us that it can feel like an impossible task to avoid them. But, often, adding a new behavior can be easier to accomplish, while also displacing an old habit. For example, let’s say you struggle with eating late at night while you’re checking social media. And that habit is causing you to struggle falling asleep (because your stomach is so full) and also making you less productive at work because you’re so tired. Instead of focusing on getting rid of late night eating, why not choose to go to bed earlier? By setting a reminder to make your bedtime earlier, you’ll get more sleep AND probably not eat as much at night . It’s a win-win! For my thoughts on an alternative to the all-too-frequent January Detox, check out my blog “A Different Kind of January Detox.”
5. Make Resolutions About Things You CAN Control.
When I work with my clients on achieving new goals, I find it most beneficial to stick to things they can control. These types of things are behaviors. However, what so many want to focus on are potential results of those behaviors. For example, science shows us that eating more fruits and vegetables promotes health and longevity. Does that mean that if I start eating more fruits and vegetables that I am guaranteed to lose weight? No! What our bodies do with regards to weight is part of an extremely complex set of circumstances including genetics, medical conditions, medications, prior periods of restriction (i.e., dieting), hormones, etc.
But, when we make the number on the scale the focus of our goals, it often results in behaviors that we know aren’t healthy. Have you ever skipped meals before a weigh in for a weight loss program? Or exercised excessively?
Examples of things that you can control: eating more fruits and vegetables; trying a new hobby; cooking more at home.
Things you CAN’T control: your weight (it’s not a behavior!), other people’s actions; the number of social media followers you have.
Get the idea?
What Will You Choose This Year?
This year, I chose to make new year’s resolutions., although I don’t every year.
I’m getting older and starting to appreciate each year as a gift. And I’ll be celebrating a milestone birthday later this year!
So, in no particular order, here are my 2020 resolutions:
- To eat more fruits and vegetables.
- To cook more at home. (I’m kicking off the year with the #COOK90 challenge on epicurious. It’s non-diet and encourages home cooking. I give myself more days off though! That’s one way I practice flexibility!)
- To try a new form of physical activity.
- To knit one new project each month.
- To seek out random acts of kindness towards others.
- To meditate daily for 5 minutes.
- To be less perfectionistic and care less about others’ opinions.
- To limit my use of single-use bags at stores.
Whether or not you choose to make resolutions, know that you can make a positive change in your life at any point.
Do what feels best for you and know that that’s 100% the right decision for you! And that’s all that matters!
Wishing you a happy and healthy 2020 and beyond!
Kelly Abramson MS, RD is a dietitian and Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor who works with clients in Alexandria, VA and virtually via telehealth. She guides women as they break free from dieting to find joy in food and their bodies. Kelly blogs regularly at NpowerYou.com and has created a free e-book for download, “7 Steps to Overcome Stress Eating.”