Are you one of those people who make resolutions for the new year? Do you wipe the slate clean and make promises to yourself?
I don’t think resolutions work. They’re not for me anyway.
But who knows? Maybe it works for you.
I tend to think that making New Year’s resolutions puts too much pressure on you.
As if that one day, the first day of the year, is a magical time. That it can give you the strength to hold onto all your promises to yourself. And fold your fingers down into a fist to keep that commitment safe.
The Goals You Strive For:
Lose weight, work out, take walks, no sugar, no carbs, etc. Resolutions run the gamut.
But as you’re making that commitment (and I’ve been there), a small part of you already feels the declaration of that promise waver. Just a little bit. Like letting a slight amount of air out of a balloon.
Setting Yourself Up For Failure:
Just the knowledge of that resolution seems to set a person up for failure.
I won’t make a promise to myself one day and reasonably think I can make it work the other 364 days of the year.
It’s really just a day in the chapter of your life. The first day of the year doesn’t mean that those goals must be set in stone.
Yes, I get it. I really do. The start of a new year fills you with the possibility of being stronger and more in control of your life. It is as good a time as any to put the measuring stick up to your willpower.
“People don’t want their lives fixed. Nobody wants their problems solved. Their dramas. their distractions. Their stories resolved. Their messes cleaned up. Because what would they have left? Just the big scary unknown.”
― Chuck Palahniuk, Survivor
Back when I thought resolutions on New Year’s were achievable, I felt alive with possibility. The promise to myself was like electricity flowing through my veins and energizing me.
Those Promises Failed:
But after about a week, whatever I’d promised myself began to slip. Then after a month it floated out to sea.
I’d feel a bit of anger at myself for not being strong enough to tough it out.
But after the anger passed, there was relief. I was no longer tethered to that pledge I made myself. The weight was lifted from my shoulders.
Those huge promises I made to myself weighed were just more than I could carry.
Self improvement is certainly a worthy goal to strive toward. Eating better. Taking better care of your body.
Bu it’s hard to keep that promise when you see the indulgences all around you.
And suddenly you find yourself desiring it so much it’s like having an itch you can’t scratch. It’s all-consuming. All you can think about.
There was a time when I wanted to stop eating meat, and that didn’t last.
In the beginning I had visions of a kitchen chock full of healthy foods. There would be beans or eggs or tofu as the protein for every meal.
And then I saw someone eating a burger and my mouth automatically began to water.
I couldn’t stop myself from visualizing that first bite of meat. Then the mustard that coated the toasted bun. And the crispness of the lettuce and onion and pickles.
“I made no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me. ”
― Anaïs Nin
And so I let myself eat a burger.
I felt guilty later, after the burger was eaten. I told myself it was the last one. Until another situation came up where I was sorely tempted.
The Resolution That Didn’t Work:
And soon that resolution went up into the ether.
I realize that the pressure I put on myself with resolutions is just too much. Telling myself I could never again eat something that I enjoyed eating would not work.
The more attainable goal is how often I could eat it.
So what works for me is taking small steps toward something. Large strides are distances my feet simply can’t take me.
Because we’re human. And humans make mistakes.
The phrase “go big or go home” doesn’t have to apply to this type of situation.
After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
It started with one brick. And then another; hour after hour. Day after day. Until Rome began to take shape.
So start small with goals. Don’t go full tilt toward something that’s going to be hard enough to begin with.
No More Self Shaming:
Let’s have no more self shaming over resolutions that are just too big a promise to yourself.
The resolution should be to begin something.
Not to leap tall buildings in a single bound like Superman. Who, as we all know, was just a character in a story.
Researchers suggest that only 9% of Americans that make resolutions complete them. In fact, research goes on to show that 23% of people quit their resolution by the end of the first week. And 43% quit by the end of January.
“I’ve never had much luck with New Year’s resolutions. Last year I only lasted three days before realizing I couldn’t survive without junk food. And the year before that, when my sister and I promised not to argue anymore, we didn’t even make it to the end of my dad’s New Year’s Eve party. I’ll spare you the gory details, but fruit punch and guacamole were involved. So was dry cleaning.”
― James Ponti, Blue Moon