The run up to a new year is always such an exciting time. I would actually go as far as saying that New Year’s Eve is my favourite holiday of them all; there’s just something so refreshing about it. The idea of wiping the slate clean and reinventing myself for the coming year has always really appealed to me, as it does many others. On the flipside, as I’m sure everyone who loves the ‘New Year, new me’ vibe knows, there is another side to it that can, quite frankly, be pretty miserable.
Picture this: it’s the end of January, you’re sat on the sofa with a huge bar of chocolate, a glass of wine and you haven’t seen the gym in 2 weeks. Sound familiar? Me too. In the past, it’d be about this point that I’d give in and think “well, there’s another year of failed resolutions, I’ll have to wait for next year now!” It was so stupid, but I honestly gave my resolutions so much power that as soon as I’d failed to stick to them, the year was written off. Resolutions can be incredibly empowering and are really fun to set, but only if you’re thinking about them in a constructive way, rather than adopting the ‘all or nothing’ viewpoint I used to hold myself.
First and foremost, remember that you’re human. I don’t think anybody in the history of forever has managed to stick to a resolution without at least a bit of a wobble. It’s human to go off track sometimes, it’s human to give in to temptation and it’s also human to beat ourselves up about this. I’d say 95% of the time, resolutions are about bettering ourselves as a person, but when we start feeling awful about ourselves because we ‘failed’, it becomes totally counter-productive. The best resolution you could ever set, is to above all else, love yourself unconditionally. Accept that things aren’t always easy, and learn to forgive.
Secondly, yes, the New Year is symbolic and a great opportunity to make positive changes, however it’s important not to give it too much power. I’m all for New Year’s resolutions and put a great deal of thought into setting them every year, but keep in mind that in truth, it really is just another day. Every day is an opportunity to improve your life, so if you break a resolution one day, don’t worry about it. As I mentioned earlier, I always used to think as soon as my resolution was broken, that was literally it until next year, I had once again ruined the entire year. Of course, in hindsight this makes no sense, but I truly did give it that much power. If you slip up on your resolution, just remember that it’s totally normal, and as long as you get up and keep trying, you’re still winning.
When you start getting caught up in how difficult it is to stick to a goal, it’s easy to forget why you set it in the first place. Instead of mulling over how hard you’re finding it, take some time out to revisit why you set the goal in the first place – and focus on how it will make you feel. For example, if your resolution is to eat healthier or exercise, think about how it’ll make you feel confident, or give you more energy. By taking the focus away from physical changes, we’re less likely to end up beating ourselves up for what we aren’t at the moment. In addition, we can almost always feel progress before we see it. If you’re goal is to lose x amount of weight, it might be a while before you feel you’re achieving anything, but if your goal is to work out in order to increase your energy levels, you’re going to feel those benefits much more quickly.
Throughout my life, my relationship with goals and resolutions has changed for the better. As a younger teenager, I saw goals as something to set and then achieve. If I was to go off track then the goal was written off; I’d failed and there was no budging. It was a cycle of set goal – slip up – call myself a failure – set new goal. The realisation that it didn’t have to work like that was a huge step forward. Always remember that a goal or resolution is something to work towards, not something that you have to be perfect at immediately. It seems counter-productive, but by allowing yourself to slip up, you will actually achieve so much more. Surely it’s better to slip up, learn from it, forgive yourself and try again than it is to slip up, label yourself a failure and wait until next year. It sounds so obvious to me now, but for years that was literally the way I saw it, and it was so damaging.
So if this year you’ve found yourself giving up on those resolutions all too soon, just remember that every day is a new opportunity to progress, and that slipping up ≠ failure. Decide to love yourself despite your ‘flaws’ or mistakes, and to keep working towards those goals, no matter how many bumps in the road. Above anything else, remember that goals are about progression, not perfection.