I’m not much for new year’s resolutions. I think they are designed to fail. We place so much value on the timing of these resolutions that we forget the necessity that inspired them in the first place.
I’m more interested in setting intentions that are backed up by a sustainable plan that is easy to follow and offers room for growth.
In some ways, the marketing of New Year’s resolutions is more successful than the actual resolutions themselves. Who hasn’t heard “New Year, New You” and felt motivated to discover that “new you” in the new year?
Here’s why new year’s resolutions don’t work, though:
1. We allow the calendar to determine when to create change.
January 1st is an arbitrary date. Sometimes it’s not the right time or we don’t have a good enough reason. The beginning of a new year isn’t enough of a motivator for most people to make changes that actually stick.
2. We set goals that are too big.
Go big or go home, right? Wrong. This is one of the biggest errors we make when it comes to attempting to change our habits. It’s not that we shouldn’t dream big or that big goals are ultimately unattainable. It’s the all or nothing approach that makes these goals destined to fall apart.
3. We set finite resolutions.
Setting the goal to lose 10lbs or 20lbs is great. but what happens when you actually achieve it? What then? Resolutions that are finite are the ones we frequently backslide the most on.
While I don’t believe in the “New year, new you” mojo, I do believe that we each have the ability to change habits that are not serving us and create new, healthier habits. As I said earlier, I believe in setting intentions. Not just at the new year, either, but ones that shift and grow as I shift and grow throughout the year.
Here are my top tips. Think of these as anti-new year’s resolutions:
1. Start small.
You can dream big, but start with small bite-sized actions. When you create achievable daily actions, it’s a lot easier to build on them in order to manifest the bigger goals over time.
Pro tip: the small actions should be so easy, you can’t say no. That might seem silly, but when you aim for radical change, you will be able to say no very easily or come up with excuses for why you can’t do it on a day that is full of challenges or frustration. So do yourself a favor and aim for small, easy new actions.
2. Be a little vague.
Weird advice, I know. think of it this way. Instead of saying, “I want to lose 10lbs by February 1st”, instead say, “I want to be healthier in 2016.” Then make a plan you can follow and also sustain. One that starts small (see number 1) and focuses on actions, not the goal (see number 3).
3. Focus on the actions, not the goal.
If you want to lose weight, for example, what are the daily actions you are going to take? What are the small changes you are willing to make so that your goal is eventually achievable? It might be adding more green to your diet or switching from refined sugar for natural sugar like honey or dates. It might be adding 10 minutes of daily movement to your morning routine. Whatever these actions are, in the long run, they are far more valuable than the goal. The goal might change, but the actions are what establish behavior you want to take on.
So don’t make resolutions this year. Set intentions. Craft a plan that focuses on actions and not goals. Start these whenever you want. Start over if they aren’t working. Re-evaluate as needed.
Every day is a new year and a new opportunity to start over.
So don’t hang all of your hopes on one day or one time of year. Make every day matter.