New Year, New Resolution…Or Not?

We are 10 days into the new year. How many of you made new year’s resolutions? How many of you have given up already? If so, you aren’t alone. A quick Google reports that 80% of new year’s resolutions fail by mid February (U.S. News & World Report). So what’s the point of even making one? Or we making the wrong type of resolutions? Or maybe we are looking at failure wrong?

In the past I made resolutions that would help me meet society’s ideals of being thinner, prettier and wealthier. For example, I would tell myself my resolution for working out seven-days a week and cutting out fast food and junk food was because I wanted to be healthier (a good reason for sure!). In reality, it was because I wanted to be thin again and wear the same size I did in college. I thought if I looked better, I would feel better about myself.

Growing up I was one of those girls others envied because I was so thin. It wasn’t anything I did, it just was. I could eat whatever I wanted and not gain weight. I didn’t go to the gym or diet, I was naturally thin. Thinking back, I had an anxious personality type (still do a bit :)) and don’t remember being hungry (the way I do now). I can remember my grandmother commenting on the fact that I “ate like a bird” (she didn’t know birds actually eat 1/4 to1/2 their body weight every day!). My friends used to call me “string bean” or “skinny mini.” My thinness became part of my identity. Fast-forward to two babies, years of eating junk and middle age, suffice to say no one calls me “Bony Maronie” anymore. Looking in the mirror I felt ashamed of the weight I’d put on. The number on the scale kept going up. Each year I’d dutifully make those new year’s resolutions to lost 15lbs, 20lbs, 30lbs and fail. I would fail and then feel bad about myself.

These resolutions were misguided. I found I was able to be healthier (physically and mentally) if I didn’t focus on how I looked physically, but instead on how I felt. While I still make goals for myself through out the year, I don’t do new year’s resolutions anymore. Instead I set a theme for the year. In the past, some of my themes were…”Dream Big,” “Be Brave,” and “Lean In.” I use post it notes and phone widgets to remind myself of my theme. I try to set goals related to my theme that help me be a better person. The theme servers as a reminder to me to pick myself up and try again when I fail. Instead of beating myself up when I fail (yes, I once again have been spending way to much time consuming news again), I remind myself that failing is part of the process and not a reason to give up. Imagine the world if resolutions looked more like this…

  • I will put myself in someone else’s shoes before I comment.
  • I will make decisions true to myself instead of on what others want.
  • I will do what’s right even when no one is looking.
  • I will admit my mistakes and apologize when I’m wrong.
  • I will treat others with respect even when I disagree.
  • I will be mindful.
  • I will practice self-care.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on resolutions. What would you add?