Now that Christmas is over, it seems like much of my family and friends’ have adopted a ‘thank u, next’ attitude, and are gearing up for the next holiday: New Year’s (which I have to admit, as a Type A personality, is one of my favorite holidays of the year 🙂 Because I have an obsessive love of beginning new routines, buying planners and organizing my file cabinet, it would only make sense why I adore New Year’s for it’s promising prospect of a fresh start and an entire year’s worth of new adventures that will eventually be revealed.
It would seem, that as a Type A personality, that the question ‘What’s your New Year’s resolution’ would inspire me to rattle off 10 different things I hope to start, or finish, or accomplish, or complete in the New Year. But from in 2017 my priorities and mentality about life and resolutions changed, and I took a new approach instead…
💜 Ditch the self-critical ‘should’ list that’s posing as your ‘resolutions’
When I moved to Stamford, CT in the Summer of 2017, I had just come off a really bad breakup. I spent from August – December 2017 holed up in my tiny (but still lovely!) studio apartment just by myself, only leaving to go to work or Pure Barre. Besides my younger sister, I knew no one else in the area and, while I was excited to start a new life, I was still reeling from heartbreak and, understandably, I closed myself off from every received invitation to socialize. Towards the end of 2017, as the bright promise of a new year drew closer, I thought it might be the perfect time to shed the ‘broken’ me and start over again.
I wrote down a bunch of resolutions that I had for the ‘new me’: things I wanted to accomplish, changes I wanted to make, routines I wanted to start! Soon I had a very self-critical ‘should’ list of 25+ things I ‘should start doing’, ‘should stop doing’ or ‘should desperately change about myself’. Needless to say, I didn’t find ‘should’ very motivating. Instead of making me feel better, my list made me feel worse, because I looked at all of the things I ‘should’ have been doing all year, but hadn’t, or didn’t, or wasn’t.
Which draws me to my first point: When making New Year’s Resolutions, it’s easy for us to be overly self-critical. We look at all the many, many things we wish we could change about us because we ‘should’ have been doing this, or there’s ‘pressure’ to do that, or you ‘have’ to do this in order to be a worthier part of society. Most often, all of our ‘shoulds’ involve some type of pressure, whether it’s from society, or family, or partners, or yes – even ourselves. Release the self-imposed pressure and simply give yourself permission to exist where you are, right here and right now. New beginnings need not be shrouded in all the ways you don’t measure up. Focus on finding the things you want to improve for you, instead of focusing on what – or who – you ‘should’ be.
💜 Focus on ONE thing…
Back to my list of 25 things…I realized that my heart just wasn’t in it: not only was I still bummed about my breakup, but now I had mounting pressure from myself to completely 180 my life…it just seemed demotivating, daunting and way too drastic.
After all, how can any of us try to change 25 things about ourselves at one time?! It’s like ASKING for failure. Yes, of course there are things we want to change about our life, new routines we’d like to start…but realize that making these adjustments to your day-to-day routine, creating habits, making lifestyle changes takes time. Don’t overwhelm yourself with a complete life redesign. Start with one thing. Yes. Only one. (And to all my Type A overachievers, you WILL have the option to add more – just keep reading…)
…at a time (AKA ‘layer’ your resolutions)
If there’s one thing that’s true about humans, it’s that, psychologically, we don’t like change. You may be able to adjust to change very well! But humans overall have a hard time adjusting when our environment, habits, routine or situations need to shift; it’s uncomfortable and it causes all sorts of fits and starts. Which is why New Year’s Resolutions are kept up for about 5 minutes, and then we long for the comfort and ease of our old day-to-day, and before you know it, we’re right back where we started…
So where above, I suggested changing just one thing, I’ll now amend that to say ‘one thing…at a time‘. Because humans need to approach change sllloowwwwwlllyyyyyyy if it’s going to stick. If you have 5 things that you want to change or do or accomplish next year, start with one. If you can keep that one thing going for 6 weeks, layer the next one on. When you’ve hit 6 weeks of doing both consistently, add your third on, so on and so forth. Small and incremental changes + consistency = maximum results.
💜 My personal preference: Instead of resolutions, set a ‘theme word’…
Funnily enough, after making my whole list and trying to pare it down, I still wasn’t feeling ready enough to take on a bunch of new challenges in the new year. What I was ready to do was exit my ‘shell’ and explore new things, meet new people and live life a bit more fully than I had done in the last few years when I was attached to someone else. Because I didn’t have a resolution that quite ‘fit’ this description of what I wanted, I decided to make things super simple and that I would just start saying ‘yes’ to things I normally wouldn’t say ‘yes’ to. Finally, this felt right!
The word ‘yes’ held optimism, positivity and possibility: I didn’t know what 2018 would bring, but I knew that I wanted to fully experience it, and so I was going to do my best to say ‘yes’ to every opportunity that came my way.
The word ‘yes’ changed my life in 2018. I said ‘yes’ to participating in a fashion show and, as a result, now have the closest group of girl friends I’ve ever had (who mean the world to me!). I said ‘yes’ and took on new career-related opportunities (and though not all of them worked out, it all lead to something great!). I said ‘yes’ and started dating again and met an amazing man…who is now my boyfriend.
I said ‘yes’ to staying out way too late. ‘Yes’ to concerts. ‘Yes’ to parties. ‘Yes’ to impromptu drinks, dinners, dates and more.
2018 has easily become not only one of the best years, but probably the ‘richest’ year of my life because I truly indulged in every opportunity, situation, person and event.
So if you’re just not ‘feeling’ the resolutions, I challenge you to find your word and integrate it, no excuses, into your life…and see what happens.
(Low and behold, I am in VERY good company with selecting a word to guide me throughout the year…It turns out Melinda Gates does this, too! )
No matter what goals you set for yourself in the New Year – whether they’re lists or words, whether they’re based on health, money, fitness, emotional, physical, mental goals, I hope that you allow yourself the time, patience and space to make it your best year yet.