The whole idea of a “resolution” has a negative association in my humble opinion. When we promise to do or not to do something we’re immediately putting ourselves in debt and in a state of pressure or expectation. It’s something we haven’t done yet and need to check off the list or accomplish. Any kind of a resolution or an “I promise to…” brings back traumatic memories of writing out that sentence on the blackboard 100 times for bad behavior. Thanks but no thanks. I’ve never gotten the whole New Year’s resolution thing and for good reason: most of them fail. We set out with the best of intentions but almost every year we look back on that point we lost steam and said, ‘screw it.’
This tells me one of two things: either there is something inherently foolish about setting new year’s promises to ourselves or we are going about them all wrong. I’d say it’s a little bit of both. Let’s take the “I resolve to lose weight” one. No wonder this bright idea falls flat on its face before half the year is out as the gym memberships swell in January and then sit collecting dust. It reeks of deprivation “Oh God, I have to go to the gym now.” so very difficult to actually get excited about such a resolution. Come now, can anyone get excited about going to the gym? As Joan Rivers once cracked, “As soon as I see someone smiling and having a good time while they’re running I’ll start.”
No, there will be no excitement around the gym but we shore can get excited about makin’ that optimistic list of resolutions. That’s the easy part. What about if we put a positive slant on that goal to make it more palatable? What if we promise to treat ourselves to something frivolous if we meet our January month exercise goal and so forth? What if we take our mind off the huge broad resolution and break it down into an action plan and strategy? Forget the sweeping promises that make us feel good while we are writing them only to peter out in discouragement once the work comes. Let’s be realistic and kind with ourselves. Instead of promising to lose weight, reimagine yourself as a healthy vibrant, active person and then start becoming it. Then take barely noticeable, incrementally small steps in that direction. If you haven’t worked out since 1989 and your muscles know no place but Atrophyland, take a brisk walk every morning and insist on kicking it up one little notch every week so that maybe by February you’re running a 1/2 mile every day. Who knows what is possible when you start changing the idea of yourself little by little.
Instead of a list of New Year’s Resolutions I have picked out one word to use as a compass and theme for the year. Of course I have intentions, goals and dreams for the year, but they will all somehow point back to this word. Once you have your list of intentions you can work backwards and create small steps each week so that you can feel tangible success that is sustainable. My word for the year is “Niche” and the supporting cast members are “Freedom”, “Empowerment” and “Joy Explosion.”
For those of you still not giving up on the resolution madness, this article from WSJ gives some additional ideas for knocking it out of the park.