As we close out January, I’m sure many people are realizing that their New Year’s resolutions are practically unattainable. Through my experience of life as well as examining my peers, family, and friends I see a pattern every year when the new year rolls around. We all say to ourselves, this will be my year and then come February, these resolutions become distant memories. Now, I am not saying it is a bad thing to come up with New Year’s resolutions, however it is important to create attainable goals so we aren’t exhausting ourselves or setting ourselves up for failure.
Personally, each year I would create this long list of everything I wanted to change, everything I wanted to move on from, get rid of, and inevitably, I would fail to get to everything on the list. It made me feel bad or like a failure for not doing what I set out to accomplish in the new year. Over the years, however, I began to realize how toxic this was and that this “list” we create for the new year is often impossible and unattainable because we create these large expectations that we can’t get to or change in a short amount of time. Resolutions rarely lead to sustainable behavior change because they are not constructed in a way that harnesses motivation that can turn action into change.
In middle school I was experiencing troubles with self-esteem and confidence and much of what I wanted to change about my life had to do with my appearance: my height, my acne, my stomach, my legs, essentially every part of my body. You know, typical stuff middle school kids worry about when their peers advance more quickly and you feel awkwardly stuck in puberty. I stumbled upon this list a couple weeks ago, and it is what inspired me to write this blog post. My list from 2017, January 1st reads:
My 2017 goals:
• Get rid of acne
• Run every day after school
• Eat less junk food
• Make more friends
• Grow taller
Now, I certainly got a laugh out of this list, mostly because many of these goals were completely unattainable in 12 months and not exactly in my control. Five years later, I still haven’t completed all these “resolutions” and that is okay. Reading this list made me realize that many people I know complicate their lives and emotions by creating goals for the new year that look extremely like my list from 2017. This list made 2017 a hard year for me because instead of focusing on small changes I could make to improve my life, I focused on things I couldn’t really change and that made me feel dissatisfied and bad about myself. I constantly tried competing with my goals, convincing myself I could do it and let’s face it…many of these things were not going to resolve in 12 months given my age. I instilled extremely restrictive habits in my life at such a young age in hopes I could attain my 2017 goals, and during this process, I couldn’t enjoy life to its full extent and enjoy the present moment because all I could think about is I only have 11 more months of this year, I need to start doing x, y, and z.
Media publications are also largely responsible for encouraging people to make New Year’s resolutions that get abandoned as quickly as they start. You see on social media the plethora of juice cleansed, yoga fanatic, Soul-Cycle enthusiasts acting like they are going to do this every day for the rest of the year. That’s not likely and what we don’t see is the reality of how quickly these goals dissipate..they don’t post that. Once I started to consider this I realized that it is not real because they are only posting what they want to post, which is the good, positive, “motivating” things.
I had originally planned to create this post to talk about why I hate New Year’s resolutions and my experience with them, however, I realized that there are other things that I do INSTEAD of New Year’s resolutions that I find more effective and positive. These are things that you can do any time of the year…anytime you want to manifest change in your life. Why give one day.. New Year’s day..so much power and hype? Here are things that I have incorporated in my life to make positive changes instead of making New Year’s resolutions.
Gratitude exercises – I genuinely think gratitude is such an amazing way of evaluating life and bringing positive change, especially in moments that you don’t feel so good about yourself and your current place in life. There are a few ways to exercise gratitude, however, my favorite method is journaling. Every night, I find all the things I complained about that day and find gratitude in those things. For example, the other evening, I was upset because I didn’t do well on a test so that night I went home and wrote, “I am lucky to receive an education and have such a great school.” In my journal, I also list five things that I am grateful for and send someone a positive vibe that might need it. I try to do this every night before I go to bed. Finding time to reflect on things that you are grateful for helps get you out of a negative mindset and helps you realize that most days, the good certainly outweighs anything bad. It also helps you attract more good things in your life when you are grateful for what you have.
Vision board – This is a great method to really visualize and manifest things that you want to create in your life. This is a fun and creative way to put your ideas on how you want your life to look onto a board with pictures. I like to look through magazines and save pictures of things that match my interests, goals and future visions of myself. You can cut out images that are travel related, friends, fashion, whatever resonates with you. I like to start my board in the new year and slowly add pictures that illustrate a life that matches my vision. You are more likely to attain something you can visualize.
Set intentions – Setting and living your intentions allows you to focus on who you are in the moment, to recognize and live your values, and to raise your emotional energy, which in turn raises your physical energy. Every morning when getting out of bed I think about what my intentions for the day are, what my purpose is, and I think this is by far one of the most effective ways to create daily goals for yourself that you can achieve.
I was really looking forward to sharing this with you guys, especially because the new year has started and many people have started to lose momentum with New Year’s resolutions. This is a challenging time for everyone and setting goals that are not feasible is a waste of time and energy, so try not to push yourself too much. Enjoy your body, your health, your mind, and appreciate every day.
Till next time,