New Year’s Resolutions and How To Stick To Them
Hold onto your hats, that special time of year is coming. No I’m not talking about any special holiday or celebration, I’m talking about that creeping realisation which suddenly piques its head and shouts at you “Are you really happy with yourself right now?! How much stuff have you been putting off, huh! Putting on a little bit of Christmas weight I see!”.
Yes, it’s time for New Year’s, and a ‘New You’. Time and time again, we find ourselves drinking on New Year’s Eve, staring at the mandatory television spectacle of dough-faced presenters telling us about how great the year has been, only to come to the terrifying conclusion that you’ve paid your resolutions absolutely zero mind, focusing instead on trying to drag yourself out of the post-Christmas feast fog. So now you’ve suddenly realised just how unprepared you are for this supposedly perfect ‘New You’, you panic. You panic hard. And so you come up with a excellent list of all the perfect things you need in order to achieve the perfect you, and all’s well and done, right?
Well, not really. You’ve already lost at this point. You’ve engaged into serious panic mode, which means the aims you’ve set for yourself in your current state are so ambitious that even the Olympian athletes (or Gods if you prefer) are taking a step aside, waiting for you to go forward. And what ends up happening every time? Halfway through January/February, you look up at the grey sky on your way to work/study for the umpteenth time, and slowly in your subconscious, your brand new subscription to the gym suddenly fades off into the distance, never to be picked up again, but always too unsure to be canceled.
Of course this isn’t everyone’s experience. Sometimes you do manage to stick to them, and hurray if you do! Congratulations, seriously, we’ve got Prosecco in the back. But for many, NY resolutions are a stress-inducing experience of empowering all your flaws, setting the bar impossibly high, and then slowly becoming disillusioned with the whole thing, until it flits away from your mind until next year. So with that in mind, here are some thoughts on how to make survive the onslaught of ‘New You’.
Don’t want to do it? Don’t.
A lot of this may sound like common sense, but times of panic often make you forget common sense. If you feel comfortable with who you are at the end of the year, then don’t bother trying to unpick yourself to see what can be improved. Of course we’re all human, and we’ve all got flaws, that much is true. We could all do with a little something here and there, but if you’re staring at the fireworks on New Year’s Eve and you’re thinking to yourself “God I just can’t come up with anything”, then just let it slide. Life isn’t always that neat, and you’ve got the whole year ahead of you to work out if anything needs changing.
Drop the ‘New You’. Focus on improving your parts, not changing the whole.
This is the most dangerous part. You find one thing you want to change, start snowballing and suddenly find yourself wanting to transform yourself from your regular Clark Kent into a phantom Superman. The concept of a ‘New You’ is a lie. Unless you quit your current life, travel to Tibet and become a Buddhist monk, the ‘New You’ is unfortunately completely entangled with the old you. The real truth is that any escape from the old you will often take years, even decades, and the transformation will be so subtle you won’t even notice it. All you do trying to force change is put unnecessary pressure on yourself. Instead focus on the specific, not on a vague transformation.
I’m not telling you to aim low in general. Aspirations are one of the best things about being a person. But the road to success is often long, winding, and paved with rocks that get in your shoes and hurt your feet. You want to get fitter over the next year? Don’t just think “Lose Weight”. What a vague, broad aim. Think to yourself “What physical activity do I enjoy doing?”. I have a bad knee and absolutely love food for example, so I know I’m not going to become a lean, mean vegan machine by running and cutting out my intake of milk, butter and meat. I could, however, start swimming and swapping meals for healthier alternatives. I’m not going to go from avoiding the gym like the plague to turning up there 7 days a week, so setting myself a smaller goal of “Try to swim once a week, and eat two healthier meals a week” is a great foundation to build upon. By throwing down the gauntlet, you make it an all or nothing proposition, which is far easier to give up on than to commit to. Smaller, flexible personal goals will be far easier to maintain than huge, inflexible ones.
Write them down regularly
It’s so easy to forget your resolutions. They seem so prominent in your mind, in the first week of January, but then slowly, as work and social lives and everything return back to their winter norm, they can easily slip from your mind, and you find yourself in May suddenly going “What the hell did I agree to myself? I can barely even remember NYE, let alone what I thought about!”. So the easy way to do this, not one that will exactly set your mind on fire, is to write them down. Every day, every week, every month – your decision. But if you keep reminding yourself, keep putting pen to paper/finger to keypads, you’ll keep reminding yourself of what you have to do. and that what you have to do really isn’t a lot. And if you can’t even commit to writing your resolutions down, then at least it shows that they aren’t that important to you in the first place, just a product of suddenly imposed guilt at “not being good enough”. Externalising commitments in lists can be so helpful in motivating you.
You’re doing these resolutions for you. Don’t make yourself do anything you feel you have to do. You’ll just create frustration and disinterest down the line. The only one usually who will really care about these resolutions is you, and it’s for your peace of mind. So be positive, choose things that you think will make you happy. After all, it’s a new year, and since it’s not going to be a ‘New You’, make it a Better You instead.
What resolutions have you made for 2016? Let us know in the comments!