That year went awfully fast, didn't it? It's been a year of fascinating highs and lows. As I think back to everything that happened, it seemed like only a brief moment and time, but there was really quite a lot packed in there. Just like in years past, it's about at this time of every year that I realize it's almost time for the ball to drop, so I briefly consider making a resolution, then drop the idea.
It's true. I never make a resolution. I haven't for years. In fact, the last resolution I made was, I believe, in 2004, when I resolved to 'continue to kick ass, and be as bad as I can be.' I succeeded that year, so I kept it, and it has been the only one I've ever made since.
There is a method to this madness, however. Despite the fact that I'm absurdly Type A on just about everything else, I outright reject the idea of New Year's resolutions, for a few reasons. I feel it's helped me to make better goals, stick to them more and find greater success throughout the year.
1. One start date is too much pressure. I spent many years making goals, circling January 1st in that metaphorical red, and getting really amped up for the big day. Then it comes, I'm really good at my new habit for a few days, and then comes an inevitable slip up. Is it because I have no willpower, or I'm not good? No, it's just human nature. Perfection is unattainable. As I've said, true success isn't a constant upward motion, but the persistent forward movement, in a sine wave. But when I've placed all that momentum into January 1st, and my first slip up comes on January 5th, it's incredibly deflating.
2. I like to make goals throughout the year. I consider self-improvement and all my other various initiatives to be year-round eligible. I don't ever stop finding new ways to challenge myself. So relegating my new goals to one or two times per year is just silly. I find lots of great milestones through the year to make new goals, like my birthday, the start of a new school year (no matter how old I get), the start of summer - I never rest. Even if it means restarting something I didn't do too well on the first time. New beginnings mean forgiving myself for missing the mark, refusing to live with self-imposed guilt and allowing myself the dignity of a second chance.
3. The best chance I have at success is taking tiny little steps. And I mean minuscule. For example, I wanted to start eating healthier last year. It's tempting to sweep through the house, throw out all the junk food, make a list of everything that's forbidden and pick a day to stop ever enjoying a meal ever again. It's a recipe (pun definitely intended) for failure. Instead, I picked a new little habit every time I had the old one down pat. One habit was simply to gauge how I felt before every meal. That's it. Another was to put one less sweetener in my coffee each time, to help me get used to less sweet flavors and reduce my overall sugar intake. Over the course of a year I stopped eating fake sugars, reduced my portion sizes, started eating five servings of fruit and veg per day (did you know it was supposed to be five???), and stopped eating so many fried foods. It took a long time, but it became a life change, not a momentary change. I don't even miss eating the way I used to.
4. I never have to tell anyone what I'm up to. The worst part of resolutions, to me, is telling people what it is. Then they get these expectations. "How are you doing on that resolution?" they ask on January 14th, waiting to hear that I've already stopped bothering, because they probably have, too. And of course I had! The guilt was too much, and as I've talked about, I've struggled with guilt. I don't even need a reason to feel guilty, it's just innate. If I think I'm letting other people down, the guilt emerges. When no one knows that I'm embarking on a new goal, I can keep it to myself. I can set my own parameters, and when I stumble, I'm the only one that has to know about it. I can dust myself off and get back on the road without the hedging conversation about what happened and why.
As always, I love to hear from you. Are you making a resolution? Care to share? Are you doing something different? No matter how you approach the year-end, I hope you make it great, filled with friends and family, and that it is safe and healthy. All the best for 2018, and thanks for being on this journey with me!
N.B. I won't be writing new posts next week, so head over to Instagram or Facebook, where I'll be highlighting some of my greatest hits of the past year. See you in January!