It’s that time of year again. That time when we take a look at our lives and decide to make changes in the coming year. It is a pointless exercise for most of us because we very quickly lose momentum, get distracted, or just forget what we resolved to accomplish altogether.
So why do we resolve to make changes when we have failed again and again to the point that we just shrug our shoulder, laugh and say “Well, there’s always next year”?
Here is a bit of wisdom that I have garnered regarding Resolutions:
- Change cannot be contradictory. If you are determined to lose weight, go to the gym, stress less, and spend more time with family, then, while all these SOUND wonderful in and of themselves, they are really quite self-defeating. Losing weight requires dietary changes and exercise changes. Change CREATES stress! And stress tends to cause us to isolate ourselves from our families. Not to mention you will have the fitness gurus screaming at you that “It’s EASY IF YOU JUST TRY!” or the ever famous “If I can do it, YOU can do it!”. Ever notice that most of the fitness gurus who do most of the screaming and wielding of the guilt stick are the ones who are thin and have the energy of the Eveready Bunny? Very seldom do you have people who are just as out of shape as you are asking to become part of a team so you can lose weight together. Hmmmmm….
- Change must be achievable. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that one of my resolutions is to eat healthier. Sounds good, but what does “healthier” really look like? Does that mean I go from eating cheeseburgers every day to nibbling on celery instead? Yeah, THAT resolution will last. Set goals that are achievable. Healthier eating might mean you have salad instead of fries and drink two bottles of water for every soda you consume.
- Change must be enjoyable. I have people in my life who are dead set on setting my changes for me. Not only that, but they never miss an opportunity to remind me of the changes THEY have “encouraged” me to make. Here’s the way change works for me, if I don’t like it, I won’t do it. This applies to eating habits, exercise habits, work habits, any change I need to make. If it feels like slavery, that change will not last long and I will become resentful of those pushing me.
- Change works best as a team. This is true in pretty much any format. Get a bunch of people who are pretty much in the same situation and you have a team. If the team sets a goal, then the team can make the goal a reality. Encouraging each other, being accountable to each other, working together, pretty much any goal can be realized.
- Change will only happen when I make a plan I can stick to. I am NOT a morning person by ANY stretch of the imagination. I have absolutely NO inclination to drag myself out of bed before daylight so I can go to the gym and torture myself while my brain is trying to make my body die so rest can be had. So if my resolution is to get to the gym, then I must make a plan to do it. Therefore, I can go to the gym instead of stuffing pizza in my face at lunch, or I can go when I hit that mid afternoon slump and just need a think. If I make a plan that my mind can work with, the resolution can become a reality.
- Change can only work if you are willing to forgive yourself. When we start making changes, we’re going to slip up! We’re going to miss a day at the gym. We’re going to indulge our craving for meat once in a while. But if we beat ourselves up over these slip-ups, or worse let others beat us up over them, the guilt will destroy any hope of lasting change. If we mess up, okay, we messed up….get back on track and try to make the time a little longer before we mess up again.
- Change can only happen if it is realistic. We’ve all heard the fantastic claims by the “Healthy Eating/Exercise” companies who peddle their powders and machines and supplements and “systems.” They all claim that you can have the body you always wanted in just a few months if you will only go broke, sign over your life, and surrender everything to them (and if you help generate more followers of their cult, you can “get rich” too). Listen, the body I have always wanted is currently being occupied by someone else who doesn’t know I exist, so let’s just put that puppy to rest. The body I currently have could use a bit of renovation, but nothing drastic. After all, Rome wasn’t rebuilt in a day or a month or even a year.
Hopefully you will join me in welcoming the new year with realistic, achievable resolutions!