Rebekka Gondosch | Reporter
Setting Realistic Resolutions for the New Year
At some point in human history, it was decided that bringing in the New Year must be accompanied by an extensive list of how to radically alter our lifestyles. We might feel a more intense drive to change our habits, our bodies, our motivations, and our way of life on a grand scale, creating a new regime in the hopes that we might create a new sense of purpose and identity. Unfortunately (or perhaps quite fortunately), these changes don’t just happen because the clock strikes midnight and it’s 2016. A new year does not mean that everything about you has been stripped away and you are free to climb into a completely new being. A new year does not mean a completely new you.
Perhaps this viewpoint sounds harsh. I assure you, it isn’t meant to be. My impulse to write this article stems from a frustration toward the inundation of expectations we can place upon ourselves simply because it’s January of a new year. I believe that change is good, in fact I would say that change is necessary, but expecting radical results so suddenly is not sustainable — nor is it healthy. If we were to begin to create realistic, sustainable resolutions for our lives, we would see results much more meaningfully and with greater opportunity for longevity. Here are some points to consider when developing your goals for this year.
1) Make your goal realistic and catered to you.
Generic goals often need to be adjusted to fit individual needs and circumstances. For example, let’s say someone’s goal is to “be more fit” in the New Year. Perhaps this person has positive intentions for wanting to work out (their health isn’t optimal, they feel fatigued, they want to get out and participate in a group more, etc.).
However, let’s say this person has rarely been active in their life up until this point. They have made this resolution for the past two years and are increasingly frustrated three months into the year when they no longer have the time, the drive, or the enthusiasm to follow through with their goal. When the next year rolls around, they expect the same goal to magically work this time (the “new year, new me” notion). The honest goal of wanting to “be fit,” although it sounds simple enough, is actually a very challenging goal. There is a lot of time, energy, and healthy supports that need to be in place if it is to continue effectively.
If this person were to set more reasonable goals for their current lifestyle, perhaps “being accountable to a friend once a week to go for a walk with,” suddenly the goal has a specific time, place, and person attached to it. The resolution is catered to the person making it with healthy and reasonable guidelines. Which brings me to another important concept to consider when making resolutions:
2) Resolutions ought to act as guidelines, not as rules.
The more rules we place upon ourselves, the more we are sending ourselves the message that we can’t mess up, that we are bad or we fail if we don’t adhere to a rule we strictly impose. This mentality is not the foundation of creating healthy habits. We need to have an element of softness around what we do and what we strive to do. For example, one of my resolutions for the New Year involves doing one calming activity before I go to sleep in order to transition from my active day to a leisurely bedtime. Some of these activities include: reading, journaling, yoga, and meditation.
Again, I need to be honest with myself and ask the question, “Can I do one of these tasks every single day?” The perfectionist part of me answers with a definitive “YES.” Theoretically, I could do these tasks each day, but the point of my resolution is not to stress me out with having to get one done in order to achieve some imaginary check mark. The more important question I need to ask myself is, “Is it okay if I do not have time to do one of these tasks every single day?” and the answer to that is “YES.” If you are able to give yourself permission to not have to complete the tasks some days, that is being realistic and does not make you any less driven or dedicated to your resolution. It means you are human and leaving room for all aspects of your life.
3) Ask yourself why this resolution is important to you.
If you are eager to make some changes in your life, think first about why you are inclined to make those changes. Is your motivation coming from a place of care or from a place of self-criticism? Some resolutions stem from a desire to try new things or make time for favourite hobbies or encounters. However, some resolutions can come from a place of discomfort with how we perceive ourselves. It is important to be honest with why we are so eager to make changes and if there might be something about our current way of living that doesn’t sit well with us. Consider both these possibilities before diving head first into an intense new regime or riding the latest band wagon.
Whether or not you have established a New Year’s resolution for yourself this year, set yourself up for success by honouring who you are with grace and gratitude. Invite 2016 to be a year where resolutions, no matter what they might be, come from a place that aims to make you a happier, healthier person: a servant of God in perfectly imperfect ways.