So here we are, back with our very first article for 2021. And it feels appropriate to deal with the concept of New Year’s Resolutions.
For those of you who have set them – it’s now two weeks in! How are you going with yours?
But perhaps you have resisted the urge and have not set yourself a goal to mark the beginning of a new year. New Year’s Resolutions often get a “bad rap” for being unrealistic and perhaps even tokenistic… but I have always found any milestone a good opportunity to take stock of where we are at and see if we like that place. It’s the start of a new year, so why not think about how we mean to proceed in the year ahead?
New Year’s Resolutions can actually provide us with a great insight into our thinking about our current lifestyles. Whatever our resolutions are about represent some kind of restlessness – something we think we could do better. Sometimes this is right – reflecting a real need to make some change. The most common resolutions are attached to health and fitness (and often after the indulgences of Christmas, our diet!). And while it may not be realistic to suddenly aim to become a gym junkie just because it is a new year, it can be a recognition that we need to take better care of ourselves. After all, self-care isn’t all bubble baths and time out. Self-care is about looking after every facet of ourselves.
Sometimes it is simply an opportunity to look at things put aside that we might like to make part of our lives again – something that brought us joy once but the busy nature of the modern world has made us feel there is no time for. It may indicate a greater need for engagement or creativity, giving is us the push to take the guitar lessons we always wanted to, or to pick up the paint brush again. Being creative is important to your overall balance and wellbeing, which is why it is one of the five daily habits of the Wellbeing Hive.
It could also represent things we have once promised ourselves but let slip. It might be to make more time to read to the children – an admirable thing to add into the daily or weekly routine. Or to retake up that journal we meant to keep daily.
A new year may also give us a powerful push to make an important change – to our job or living situation for example, or even to show more gratitude for the wonderful things we have.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with setting a New Year’s Resolution when it is giving you this kind of insight.
However, we begin these grand plans while we are all on holidays, and often they don’t last past the first few weeks as we return to work and routine, and all those things that got in the way of our good intentions before. And this leads to a sense of failure – rather than the sense of empowerment that setting a goal should give us.
The trick is to keep what you are trying to implement manageable and to look into the more generalized desire for change rather than the strict habit of not eating chocolate for the year. (Remember this recent article about habits?)
Decreasing sugar and eating more vegetables is a better way to think of this, and one that is more likely to be successful (after all, why feel like a failure for falling victim to a single Smartie?).
Set yourself up for success rather than failure. Understand the difference between the goal and the action plan to achieve it.
The goal is a habit, behaviour or attitude – save more money, be more active etc. Don’t mistake the goal with a strategy for achieving it – going daily to the gym or not buying your daily coffee. Goals don’t change- but sometimes you have to be flexible with the behaviours. There will be days where getting to the gym or reading 50 pages of a book will be impossible. And some days avoiding a coffee feels rather impossible too. If you can hold yourself accountable without being quite so strict, you may have the recipe for a successful resolution that will bring you what you want for the year ahead!