Have you taken a look back over my New Year archives recently?
Although I try to actively encourage you to read my blog, I'm going to have to ask kindly that you don't have a look back at any entry dated around December 26th or so. Everyone has an old shame - mine are my three-tone pink poncho, my dating history from age 18-21, and these old New Year blogs.
I'm not saying I was wrong to post them, and in fact I didn't always have the nicest start to quite a few new years. But now, with my impending wedding, my improving health and a job I love, it's a lot easier to see in the New Year.
With that in mind, I thought about resolutions. The end of December becomes a bit like a weird game of musical chairs; each chair is etched with hopeful slogans such as "Lose Weight" or "Quit Smoking" and when the music stops at midnight on the 31st everyone rushes for their pre-picked chair.
Like the desperate rush for the last seat, maybe we are treating our resolutions as a mad dash to an achievement. All of my resolutions fizzled out by roughly January 15th - when I failed to keep them in the first week, I pretended that I was 'against' resolutions anyway, or I sulked and gave up. Not the best start to any year.
With this in mind, I decided to look through my greatest hits of resolutions past, and have a re-shuffle. Who knows, it may help. Maybe it'll help one of my readers too.
"I Must Lose Weight"
Replace with: "Get Body Comfortable"
Pressure is never comfortable, and pressure to lose weight isn't going to produce a lasting result. It may be the catalyst for a drastic change, but if we rely only on stress as a motivation, it will disappear as soon as your target is reached and will only return when you put weight on again.
Think about who or what is pressuring you to lose weight. Is it a person - your friends, your partner, a doctor? Is it coming from a good place ("I'm worried about your health") or a controlling place? Sadly, I can't tell you how to deal with negative peer pressure simply because everyone's situation is different.
Do you have a wardrobe full of clothes you can't quite fit, or an event coming up that you want to look and feel confident at? Whatever your destination is, aim to be "comfortable", not "three stone lighter" or other such high-pressure goals. "Comfortable" might be 7lbs, a stone, a dress size. It's up to you to find that out.
"I Must Stop Smoking/Drinking/Spending"
Replace with "What Could Help Me Quit?"
As a fervent non-smoker, I don't know many of the reasons why people smoke - I understand it can be a social thing, or a habit, or a means of appetite suppressant.
I do know a lot of people who have quit, or are looking to quit. The first step that all of my successfully smoke-free friends took was to seek information. Do you think you'll miss the social aspects, or the ritual of lighting up? Maybe e-cigarettes are your thing. Even if you just visit a help site or speak to a friend who faced a similar struggle, you've already achieved your resolution.
"I Will Try Something New" aka. The Bucket List
Replace with "Figure Out What I Want To Achieve"
'Bucket Lists' make people feel different things: personally I find them a little bit tricky. I'd feel bad if my list ended up 'unfinished'.
Long-term goals are fine, but nobody knows what could happen. Swapping a list of ten things out for a shorter, one-item-at-a-time goal system might work better - for example, if you want to go travelling, break that down into smaller items such as 'head to the travel agents on my day off' or 'use ten minutes of my lunch learning a new phrase in a new language'.
If you want to do a Bucket List, my advice would be to keep it down to 10-15 items and leave it open-ended. This takes off the time pressure aspect which will stop you blaming yourself when life gets in the way.
Resolutions in General
If you've had a bad year, the easiest thing to do is look back over the gone months, picking out the worst things that happened and basing your resolutions around prevention methods - that's what I've done, and it's made me less happy come end of January. It's where all the negative words like "Stop" and "Quit" and "Don't" come from: closed-end words with no room for wiggle or evolution when your situation changes. What happens you vow to lose weight, and then you start a new job that takes up a lot of time and energy? If your resolution is 'Lose Weight' and you stay the same throughout January, you're going to see it as a failure.
Whatever your resolution is, make sure to steer clear of these words: "stop", "don't", "avoid", "quit", "give up". Instead, rework your resolutions so they contain more positive notions. If something seems like a mammoth task, chop it up into more bite-sized portions - break it down into stages and give yourself a proportionate amount of time to complete each task. For example, if you're dying to write a novel, make your first goal something like "Plan my Novel" or even "Search the internet for planning ideas".
When You Fail Your Resolution
Firstly, did you fail to keep your resolution, or was your resolution inpossibly hard to keep? Re-evaluate your goal over time and figure out whether you can start right over from scratch or if you need another couple of days/weeks/months. You needn't be ashamed of your efforts.
And finally, have a happy new year. Do something that makes you glad - January can be a long month!
(As a side note, I'd like to say that one of my resolutions is to tweak this blog until I am happy with it. Changes will be occurring over the next month, and as always, LADYBLOG appreciates your feedback.)