1. A firm decision to do or not do something.
I struggle with the concept of New Year’s resolutions. I think that too many people set them and ultimately set themselves up for failure because they won’t, or can’t, follow through. The definition of resolution, above, indicates a firm decision to do or not do – it’s very black and white.
As we all know, life is so seldom as simple as black and white. There’s a lot of grey area (or, in my life, there’s a shit-ton of color).
So the thought that someone would set a goal for themselves on January 1st and actually expect to successfully see it all the way through to December 31st is, in a word, bullshit.
Things happen, life gets in the way, interest wanes, priorities change…
Don’t get me wrong. There are people who start off the year with a resolution and manage to follow through. Kudos to them! My guess is they probably aren’t the majority. Goodness knows I used to set resolutions and not follow through.
Daily journaling? NOPE.
Daily yoga? NOPE.
No fast food for a year? NNNNNNNNNOPE.
So let’s change our thought process from resolutions to goals.
1. the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.
Goals are much more flexible. They can evolve and change as-needed. Goals are based on ambition and effort, and are more suited to building a plan around achieving said goals.
I think there are two ways to approach goals… first are what I like to call “soft goals.” This is kind of a gentle promise to yourself of something you’d like to work toward, such as “I’d like to eat a little healthier this year.” Key words being little healthier. This soft goal doesn’t have to mean you’re depriving yourself of all of the foods you love – it could just mean eating smaller portions, swapping out ingredients for healthier options, or eating healthier during the week and giving yourself a cheat meal or two on the weekends.
Mind you, not necessarily all of these at the same time… that a recipe for disaster. Making small changes one at a time will likely lead to better success over time than trying to smash five different tactics all at once. That leads to burnout.
The other way to approach goals is much more structured. Ever heard of SMART goals?
Measurable (or Meaningful)
Time-based (or Trackable)
You can start off the year saying, “I want to lose a ton of weight,” but that doesn’t mean anything. How much weight is a ton of weight? WHY do you want to lose weight? Is it because you want to be healthier? Do you have an event you want to look nice for (btw, this does NOT imply that with the weight you don’t already look nice)? Do you want to fit into your college skinny jeans? What if you lose five pounds and then gain back ten? What if you get pregnant? What if you break your ankle and recovery is long and hard? What if you hate your job and are stuck in an awful relationship and you hit rock bottom and start eating your feelings?
There are so many things that can go wrong with uttering something as simple as, “I want to lose a ton of weight.” Instead, consider something like, “I want to eat healthier by decreasing the after-lunch sweets I eat from three pieces of candy to just one over a four-week period.” This goal is specific. It can be measured by the decrease in candy eaten. It’s easily achievable and it’s realistic. It’s time-based in that the aim is to achieve healthier eating habits over a 4-week period. Then it’s up to you to keep it going.
It might help to STOP thinking about using a calendar year for your goals. You should never feel restricted to a certain time period for your goals (or your resolutions). You need to do what works for you.
Some people need accountability to follow through with their goals – that’s fine. That’s great, actually. Putting it out there for other people to know what you’re up to means they’re keeping an eye on your progress, and hopefully are rooting for you. If this is what you need to do to keep going, then do it!
I think the most important thing to remember is that even if you set goals and don’t follow through, it’s okay. If you want to try again, do it. If you don’t want to try again, that’s your prerogative. Don’t beat yourself up about it. It’s not worth it!
Are you a New Year resolutioner? Have you had success with your resolutions? What haven’t you done well with?