New Year Resolutions: Do They Really Work?

It’s that time of year again when everyone around you is obsessing over their new “resolutions” for the year.  The gyms are packed full of people, the produce isles at the grocery store is running low on the new trendy organic food, and for the next week there will be a little less smoke in the air. 

Now am I saying that taking care of yourself is not a good idea?  No, of course not! Making the commitment to take care of your body is always a positive decision and should be applauded.  The problem that frequently arises with New Year’s resolutions is that there is an enormous amount of pressure that comes along with them.

Starting around Thanksgiving is usually when people start to think to themselves about how “next year” is going to be the year of change.  January 1st then slowly becomes closer and closer causing many people to overindulge in all the things they are planning on “quitting” on that magical day.  Then the first day of the new year comes and the next few days are a breeze.  You are feeling proud of yourself (as you should be when you are making the effort to practice self care) and determined to make this resolution stick, However, typically after that first week or two things start to fall apart.  Not only are you falling off the wagon, but then the feelings of shame and thoughts of self deprecation begin to bring you down and then you quit the resolution altogether...until the next year. 

So, what would I suggest for those of you that still like the idea of starting the New Year off right? 

Create GOALS for the year.  Goals do not have to have a time restrictions.  Goals allow for “off days”.  Goals give us something to work towards instead of running ourselves into the ground the way that resolutions typically do. 

Lets breakdown one of the most common resolutions and how we can turn it into a GOAL instead.

“Next year I am getting a gym membership and am going work out every day.”

 Well right here you have already set yourself up for failure.  Can you guess what the problem area is here?

It is when we use phrases like “every day” in our resolutions that we create a no winning battle.  You cannot just start exercising every day without burning yourself out, especially those individuals that have not worked out in months or maybe even years.  It takes time to build up to this and in many cases will never be achievable.  Quite honestly, even those people that DO work out everyday are not doing their bodies any favors.  Both your physical body and brain need a break from all that strain.   

 Now since the idea of exercising regularly is a great goal, how can we reword this for success?

“This year I am going to make an effort to work out more often and take care of my body physically and mentally.  I will practice self care by making healthy food choices and will exercising regularly, but not to excess.  I will also allow myself days off and will even have a piece of cake from time to time because I deserve it” 

OK so that last part about the cake doesn't have to be a part of it, but why not!  

Can you think of any resolutions that you have made for the next year that you can turn into a goal instead?