Another year has come to an end and if you’re anything like I am, you’re reflecting back on the last 364 days with a mix of emotions. With hindsight comes certain clarity and we can often see where our choices may have led us down a path that perhaps might not have been the ideal path for us to follow. Some of us will look back with happiness and pride in all of our choices – sometimes everything just lines up perfectly for us, and that feels great. But regardless of whether your journey has been bumpy, smooth or a mix of both, studies tell me that one in three of you will resolve to improve yourself in some way in the coming year, and you will do so in the form of a commitment to yourself: The New Year’s Resolution.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to improve oneself, let me get that right out of the way now. I think we’re all a work in progress, continually growing and learning as we go. But I do have a bit of a problem with the whole idea of a New Year New Me approach, which is why I never make New Year’s Resolutions, and let me tell you why.
At the end of the year many of us are feeling the effects of what I like to call The Holiday Hangover. We’ve stuffed ourselves full of delicious foods, perhaps had a few more cocktails than we normally would any other time, clocked a lot of hours with family and friends, and had a ton of fun. Or we’ve spent the holidays in a fog of depression, because let’s get real here, the holidays can be a brutal time for many of us, and they require a vast amount of energy to maneuver through.
Either scenario can leave us with an overwhelming urge to want to shed the skin we’re in for something fresh and new. This is the state a lot of us are in when we start our huge list of New Year’s resolutions, and in this particular state we can be a bit overzealous when starting our, New Year New Me projects and when that happens sometimes the momentum runs out really quickly and we’re left feeling even worse when we don’t live up to our own self imposed expectations.
I love the idea of starting fresh in the New Year, but in reality just because we flip the calendar over, we don’t automatically get a clean slate. The bills from 2015 will follow us into 2016, the relationships that were damaged will still need to be repaired and the commitments we made to others are still looming. New Year’s resolutions aren’t going to magically fix everything; studies show that most people abandon their resolutions before the end of January. But if there was a way to improve yourself, stay the course and maybe just give you the same New Me feeling plus the bonus of a sense of accomplishment, without setting an impossibly challenging list of resolutions, would you do it?
Set goals for yourself and make them attainable. If you haven’t been to the gym in five years but you want to become healthier and fitter, do not resolve to hit the gym every single day starting on the first of the year! Baby steps my friends. Work your way up to that point by starting small, something you can accomplish without becoming overwhelmed and upset. If you go at a pace that you can manage, you’re more than likely to stay the course.
New Year’s resolutions have a way of being an all or nothing sort of deal for many people but goals aren’t that way. Make your goals realistic, attainable and for goodness sake give yourself credit when you reach them. Goals are also wonderful because you can adjust them as you go with no guilt, they are meant to keep you growing. New Year’s resolutions always seem to leave people feeling guilty when they make room to accommodate. If you’re on a road to self-improvement, don’t set yourself up for failure; make it easy for yourself and kudos to you for growing.
Happy New Year. May your 2016 be filled with Light, Love and Peace.