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Let’s see, we’re only a few days into 2022. With a show of hands, how many already gave up on resolutions they made for the new year?
Ah, don’t feel bad. For one, you’re not alone. But although new year resolutions often fail, there is still hope.
We have all heard the phrase, “a new year, a new you,” at least once. In theory, it’s a terrific slogan.
Starting over completely with a blank slate sounds great, doesn’t it? We tell ourselves everything will be better next year and set new year resolutions that we hope make better people out of us.
But by the end of each year, most of us find ourselves in close to the same place we did the year before. Especially where our outlooks are concerned.
Maybe not entirely – I’m not trying to be a pessimist here. That’s not to say we didn’t learn or grow in other ways, because life has a way of teaching us whether we are aware or not.
If we’re being honest, though, by the time the holidays roll around (if not way, way sooner) we give up our good behaviors or hopeful ambitions and say “ah, there’s always next year.”
No, you aren’t hopeless and no, resolutions aren’t absolutely pointless. Not at all. They just need a foundation and a few parameters to set them up for success.
Remember, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.
Just the same, you cannot enter a new year with old mentalities. You can’t walk into 2022 thinking that just because the year is new you will be, too.
Growth is a mindset.
The main reason resolutions fail is that people don’t start with themselves. Instead, they try to change their circumstances or environment, hoping the rest will fall into place.
While changing our surroundings (like buying fitness equipment or freezing credit cards) can help motivate us initially, 9 times out of 10 they won’t create a lasting habit.
First, in order to build a growth mindset, we have to recognize where the improvement is needed. We need to be honest with ourselves on what mental complexes we need to overcome so that the positive change can even be possible.
Next, we have to actually believe we are ready for change and willing to accept what comes with it. Many times we think we want something, or at least its result, but we aren't really up to the challenge to get it.
We psyche ourselves out. Before we even start on our new goals, we doom ourselves because we don't really believe the outcome is possible for us.
More than anything, our resolutions, whether they're for the new year or any time we start them, need to be driven by a reason we consider valid.
We have to really want it!
For instance, I want to write more this year, not just on this blog platform but in other avenues. I’m seeking guest writing opportunities (with some success) and I have journals with writing prompts ready to be answered.
But having opportunities and outlets aren't always enough to encourage me to write. Most probably assume that because I’m a writer that it comes naturally to me and that I’m always inspired. Wrong.
However, not even wanting to write more is sufficient cause to drive me through the writer’s block barrier. I need a purpose to push me.
Like right now, at this exact moment, as much as I want to just lay down and snuggle my new puppy, as much as my body is telling me the blog can wait, my brain says no. My purpose is to stay consistent because my readers depend on something from me.
Purpose is different for all of us, of course.
Whether we are driven by monetary increase, the potential to help other people, the experience and sense of success, or even receiving recognition, we all have a purpose for doing what we like and, or, must do.
Thus, our brains need a convincing reason to sway them into going along with our proposed resolutions.
Goals are good!
So, once we have our head in the right place and we aren't fighting against ourselves, and we have purpose in our resolution, we need to set some guidelines.
I’m a goal-oriented person, by nature. I can’t help but make lists for the silliest things; it’s how my brain functions. If I have a goal in mind, big or small, I feel urged to do all I can to meet it.
But without proper knowledge or planning in place, goals are only well-intended dreams.
Fitness routines, diets, budgets, house projects, career aspirations, hobbies, new relationships, spiritual growth and religious activities (see blog: 30 day prayer challenge)…all of these lifestyle adjustments sound great and should be pursued.
As mentioned, first ask yourself why. Then, start writing down the what, when, where, and how.
Maybe you want to be more active. Maybe you want more friends and fun experiences. Maybe you want to pay off debt.
All those ideas are great goals. But they are also vague. To be effective and impactful, goals need to be as specific as possible.
If you’ve never stepped foot in a gym before, buying a gym membership isn’t going to get you there. Unfortunately, paying for a membership doesn’t automatically shed pounds, either.
Before attempting drastic action and wasting money, start small.
Take more steps in a day than you already do. Try a new hike. Watch some yoga or basic body-weight exercise videos to make sure you get your form down.
To make more friends and be more active, invite a few people to go bike riding or indoor rock climbing with you.
You get the picture.
Shocking your body and your mind into a routine they have not once been familiar with might feel refreshing at first.
But if there are no attainable steps and accountability in place, sheer willpower likely won’t be enough to solidify the resolution as a lifestyle.
New Year, New You: How Resolutions Can Work
As cliche as it sounds, practice really does make perfect. Or, it at least makes a habit.
You'd never try to trek Mt. Everest without the proper gear, guide, physical training, and understanding.
So, why go into a new year, or any new goal associated with it, unprepared?
I don't care if it's starting a family or starting sourdough, you need faith, purpose, and an action plan.
Remember, set attainable goals for yourself, slowly increasing (or decreasing, depending on the resolution) each day. Keep track of your progress. Remind yourself why you're doing it.
Eventually, these steps and small goals will be so part of your everyday routine that you will accomplish your overall resolution and create a lasting habit.
Admittedly, I'm more of a fiction reader. But I did find "The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do" a fascinating read (click the image for more info). If you're into facts and stats, this one will help you understand the psychology around habits and just might be what you need to get started.
Lastly, although it can be pricey and isn't necessary, I also recommend Noom for anyone feeling stuck on their weight loss journey (see blog: body image struggles). Noom is different than other programs in that they give you the right tools you can apply to your life for years to come. This isn't sponsored in any way, just a humble opinion of a positive personal experience!
Regardless what your new year resolutions or personal goals are, don't get discouraged if you miss the mark some days. Don't give up just because you falter a bit.
And don't be ashamed if you need to realign and reprioritize your goals midway through the year, either. Having flexibility and creating new ways to meet your overall goal is a sign of intelligence, not laziness.
I wish you a blessed and productive 2022. I hope it is filled with all the things you have been praying for and truly want for yourself.