Almost everyone sets resolutions for a new year, even if they don’t want to. There is something powerful and magnetic about it that seems impossible to ignore. As a naturopath, I hear about people’s resolutions all the time. Most people come to their first visit with at least one in mind. Often people have started to think about them in November and December which is evident in our visits when we’re discussing things like dietary recommendations and the reply is, “I’m absolutely going to do that, as soon as the holidays are over.”
But can I let you in on a little secret?
New Year’s resolutions set you up for failure.
I see and hear it every year:
“This is the year I’m going to start exercising every day.”
“I’m finally going to lose 50 lbs, and I’m going to do it by summer so that I can wear a bikini.”
“I’m going to be present for my kids every day and become a perfect parent.”
We perceive the start of a new year to be a big event. This year will be better. This year will the one I’ve been waiting for. This is the first year of the rest of my life. This is my chance to fix all the mistakes I think I’ve ever made and be the best version of myself possible. And this is why New Year’s resolutions set you up for failure.
Having worked with thousands of patients over the years, I’ve seen how failure impacts a person. I’ve even been that person and so I know exactly how it feels. The first 2 – 3 weeks of January you are on it. You are super motivated, super determined, and you are certain you will make it happen this year. But then something makes it harder – you’re too tired to get up early one day to work out; your kids push all your buttons and you yell at them; you have to work later than expected one day and you have to order take out for dinner; you wake up with a cold on your meal prep day.
One hard day turns into two, which turns into a week of hard days and poof – your momentum is gone. You have failed. You said it was going to be different this year but you’ve proven to yourself once again that you are not motivated enough, not disciplined enough, not good enough to accomplish your goals. Goals that it feels like other people can accomplish with ease. And suddenly you’re not only not good enough by your own standards, but now you’re not good enough by everyone else’s standards, either. You may try one or even two more times to restart your grand plan, but eventually the same thing happens. You’ve proven to yourself so many times that you can’t do it, that you just give up trying, and you will likely end up with the same resolutions next year.
I help people achieve long-term, sustainable and achievable success.
I am not about quick fixes but our society has placed incredible emphasis on external motivation. For example, a number on a scale is more powerful than almost anything I’ve ever seen. People’s resolutions will live or die based on that number and how fast it changes (or doesn’t). It is so much harder to be ok with 1 – 2 lbs of weight loss a week because at that rate you don’t get any external validation for your efforts. This is true of most of the resolutions that people set for themselves. Everyone wants long-term success, few people are prepared for what that looks like day to day. Our society certainly doesn’t reward it, and because of that we don’t value it.
I am not against setting New Year’s resolutions, but I am against setting yourself up for failure. You can make a goal any time of the year, but it’s hard to not be attracted to the possibilities of a new year.
Because I want you to be successful, here is what you should do to create your new year’s resolutions.
Take a blank piece of lined paper and put that goal you’re thinking about and put it on the very bottom line of the page. Create a separate page for every goal that you have in mind for yourself this year.
At the top of every page, write down where you’re starting from; where are you in terms of that goal TODAY.
Sit with these pages, if you have more than one, and decide which one is most important to YOU. Not your kids, your spouse, your friends, but you. Decide which one is most intrinsically important for you to achieve, not important because of what it looks like to the outside world. It should impact you in a way that is meaningful.
Now choose one page, and only one page. Recycle the rest of them. After today they are no longer relevant. While you might have the same goal in the future, your starting place will change. This is going to be SUPER HARD, but you have to trust me that you are much less likely to be successful if you’re dividing your attention between multiple goals. You also can’t work more than one goal into the same sentence. This does not set you up for success.
Once you’ve narrowed down your ONE goal, start from the bottom and write down all the steps that come before it. For example, if your goals is to lose 50 lbs, your goal right before that could be to lose 49 lbs. The one before that to lose 48 lbs. Continue this all the way to the top. I want you to write down every single incremental step that is between your starting place and your ultimate goal. By incremental, I mean that you should master exercising one day a week, before you try to master two days a week. You should drink one more cup of water a day before you try to drink two more. You should make improvements to one meal a week before you vow to change them all.
Now start working through your steps one at a time. You might be tempted to tackle multiple steps at once, but that is not sustainable. Accomplish one step, and hold steady there before moving onto the next one. By doing this you will start changing that little voice in your head that says you can’t accomplish your goals because guess what? You just did. YOU will become your most powerful ally. My patients will often tell me that they need to see me because of the pep talks I give them, but really, I am not the secret to your success; you are.
Goals are achieved one step at a time.
You can’t jump from the bottom to the top of a long staircase without magic, and that doesn’t exist. When you create a bite-sized, step-by-step plan for your success you are committing to the long game and helping to change your own mindset about yourself. Most of us have proven to ourselves over and over again that we can fail and it’s ultimately left us with broken self-esteem and a low sense of self-worth. THAT is what I want to help people change. Mindset is everything. If we can truly believe in ourselves and our abilities then we can accomplish anything. It may not happen fast, but every single step that you achieve will reinforce that you are good enough, and if we’re being really honest here, that is what it all comes down to. You don't have to get to the top of the staircase to be successful. You just have to take one step.
You are good enough.
Read that again - You are good enough.
You ARE good enough, and you CAN do this. I believe in you.
And guess what? It’s also ok if this doesn’t start for you on January 1, 2022. You can set a goal any day of the year. And if you need help getting started, I’m here to help.
I hope everyone has a safe and happy 2022!
The medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information does not create any patient-physician relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. Please consult your health care provider before making any health care decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition.
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