Day One, 2017. Here we are, the start of a new year. New Year’s resolutions abound and hopes are high. We are filled with thoughts of “This year I will…” Those three dots are filled with ideas of diets, weight loss, exercising, saving money, seeing more, doing more, or maybe doing less. I have a handful of them for myself, though I have not fully committed to anything. It’s all about setting goals isn’t it? If we set goals, we are more likely to complete them. So why is it that on January 1, the gyms are filled and by March, they have resumed normal capacity? Most of us are fully “in it” today, but will quickly forget about our New Year’s resolutions within a month, two if we are lucky.
Why do we fall back into old patterns or fail to hold ourselves accountable all year long? Maybe a year is a really long time to set a goal for. What if we set goals for a day, then a week, and instead of saying “This year I will…” we said “Today I will…”? Might this be easier? Might we actually stick to our goals? More importantly, I wonder if we would feel better about ourselves. Nothing feels worse than failure, mainly because it comes with the emotions we are most uncomfortable with: shame and guilt. Failing at big goals makes us feel bad and also makes us lose hope. When we lose hope, we have trouble making new goals or feeling as though it is okay to start over.
I wonder if this year instead of making big year-long goals, we make small day or week goals and then re-evaluate and make new goals, to continue to propel us forward. I’m not saying that long term goals are a bad thing. We might want to have a general idea of where we’re headed. But it is a lot easier to meet those long term goals when we have a short term plan to get there. If you want to start exercising more, lose weight, etc, that’s all fine and good, but then you need short term attainable goals to build off of. So then you might decide to eat clean today and at each meal time, make a choice to do this and if you happen to have a left over Christmas cookie (can you guess I’ve already done this a few times today) the day is not lost, you just make a good choice at the next meal. Once you start to find yourself making healthy choices at each meal, but maybe you keep snacking in between, then you start to work on that. Then the next week’s goal might be to prepare fruit and veggie snacks ahead of time so they are ready when you are feeling munchie. Then you keep finding new, smaller goals to keep you on track towards the bigger goal.
This can apply to anything; saving money a week at a time, spending more time with family a day at a time, etc. Whatever your long term goal is, try to put that aside and focus on the small steps it takes to get there and forgive yourself when it does not go perfectly! We tend to be so hard on ourselves when we get off track. Instead, decide it’s okay to be human and keep going.
As I’m writing this, I am still trying to figure out my resolution for 2017. I think that maybe it is to stop planning so far ahead, but instead, finding joy, health, love, etc. today. To set an intention for each day or maybe week, but to keep doing this all year long. We are growing, evolving every day, so why would we sell ourselves short by guessing today what our hopes will be by the end of the year? 365 days from today? If you want to set a New Year’s Resolution, then okay, but maybe this year, try to make it be something you can mold, break down to smaller goals, and change as needed. Here’s to a New Year and a year of steady transformation to a more joyful self (as opposed to the New Year, New You! nonsense). Happy New Year!