Many of Jenn Hardy’s clients set resolutions they think they’re supposed to set—from resolutions around exercise to resolutions around dieting. Hardy, Ph.D, is a psychologist with a private practice in Maryville, Tenn.
Of course, her clients aren’t the only ones who create resolutions that don’t ring true. Many of us do, too.
We set resolutions we don’t really or deeply care about. We set them because we assume we should want to lose weight, to cut calories, to skip dessert, to look a specific way. After all, the messages are all around us.
But in actuality we can set resolutions that genuinely support us and energize us. We can set resolutions that are exciting and nourishing, resolutions that are meaningful and fulfilling.
In other words, you can set resolutions on your own terms. Because you get to define what a beautiful life looks like for you (no dieting or weight loss required!).
Below, Hardy shared three ways to set true-to-you resolutions for the new year:
- Pick a word of the year. This “approach allows for much more nuance and flexibility,” said Hardy. For example, in 2019, Hardy’s word of the year was Love. “My intention…was to spend more focused time with the people who mean the most to me. It meant taking better care of myself and my relationships.” In a previous year, Hardy picked Persist. “I knew I was going to be taking important risks to start a writing career. I also knew that taking more risks often means that we will experience more disappointment and rejection,” she said. Persist served as Hardy’s reminder that she wanted to endure through the frustrations and keep going anyway.
- Add, instead of denying. Cut out caffeine! Stop eating sweets! No more pasta, potatoes, and bread! Many of us make goals that center around deprivation and restriction. However, “instead of picking a goal that is focused on denying yourself the things you [enjoy or] love, consider a goal that focuses on adding more of something important to your life,” said Hardy. She shared these examples of goals you might adopt: getting more sleep; hosting a friend for dinner once a month; practicing daily meditation; reading a novel a month; or even brushing your teeth for the recommended 2 minutes. What can you add to your life that would make a significant difference in your emotional, mental, physical, or spiritual health?
- Focus on your values. Hardy suggested thinking about your most important values and whether you’re living them out. If you’re not, she said, consider what changes you “need to make to have more alignment with these core values.” For example, if you’re finding that you’re not in alignment with your value of family, you might schedule a weekly lunch date with your mom, make travel plans to see your family, and eat dinner most nights with your spouse.
Many of us default to setting resolutions we think we should. Which leads us to setting resolutions that don’t resonate with us, resolutions that feel more like chores and tedious tasks, and less like exciting, invigorating ventures.
So this new year, consider doing the opposite: Set resolutions that are based on what you truly need and want. Set resolutions that help you savor more fulfilling days. Set resolutions that actually mean something to you. Set resolutions that you’re passionate about.
Remember you’re the author of your life, and you get to decide how the story unfolds.