I was at a party recently mingling with some friends and someone asked, “so, what are your New Year’s resolutions?”. Instantly everyone started chiming in with theirs:
- “I’m doing a new juice cleanse to lose 10 pounds this month”
- “I’m going to try and hit the gym every day during the week”
- “I’m going to cut out sugar completely!”
All eyes turned to me, like the scene in Mean Girls, and waited for me to say my own self-deprecating NYE resolution. I uttered meekly, “I don’t do resolutions”. There were some eye rolls, a few scoffs, and one or two people who were just silent. I shuffled away to find a drink and another bite of the artichoke appetizer I brought.
Over the last couple years I’ve stopped doing resolutions. It’s not that I don’t love a “clean slate” mentality. I’m actually really exhilarated by the idea that you are setting goals for yourself or you are working on a new project. I also don’t feel that I’m too good for resolutions – my life is definitely not perfect!
I just find it frustrating that people put so much weight on January 1st. One cheat meal on January 5th and suddenly your whole resolution is ruined and you’ll start again next year. You’re forcing yourself into an “all or nothing” mentality, and that really irks me. When you create a goal that is strict and inflexible, there’s no room for your day to day life. The goal becomes so suddenly life-altering, that if you don’t stick to it every day in the new year, you’ll feel like a failure.
Not only that, but most resolutions are a reflection of how you want to look and not how you want to feel. It’s exciting to plan on how you’re going to change your life next year. You start buying the cookbooks, the newest workout gadget, the latest supplement – and you think now I’m prepared! You’re prepared to make the leap into a new, fit, healthy lifestyle. New Year’s Day is the perfect time to start! All you needed was this one push!
But then the supplements sit on the shelf (you didn’t think to try it before buying and it tastes like absolute crap), you discover that the cookbook you got requires 15 ingredients for every recipe and there is no way that fits into your busy lifestyle, and the new gadget you bought really only works if you are working out in a gym but you love working out at home.
“When you create a goal that is strict and inflexible, there’s no room for your day to day life.”
So, how can we collectively kick the pressure to appear healthy in the new year? If we want to set a goal to lose weight, or make a healthy lifestyle change, how can we work towards a healthy lifestyle that promotes long-term success?
There are two ways that I work towards long-term success:
The first is that I treat New Year’s Day resolutions like a tradition. I get excited to do something new that I know will only last for a short amount of time. Like how someone might view making holiday cookies or a special holiday dish, you are willing to put in the extra work because you know the end result and you know it’s worth it! Every year I do Epicurious’s cook90. It’s tough but I view it as a tradition that my husband and I have come to expect every year, so we plan for it. I find that changing my perspective on NYE gives me the freedom to still be myself, but make a small change. It doesn’t feel so final. So if I don’t do it, or I fail, I just shake it off and don’t feel massive amounts of guilt.
The second is that I give myself the month off from long term goals. I intentionally look at January as an extension of my 2019 self – allowing me to “settle in” to the New Year. Then any goals I want to set I start on February 1st and begin then. This lets me bypass the NYE hype and really consider why I’m setting this goal. I’m not buying the latest and greatest just to feel healthy, I’m making reasonable goals for myself that build towards a healthy lifestyle. For example, in 2019 I did yoga throughout January but in February I decided I wanted to learn how to do a handstand (spoiler: I still can’t do it and that’s OK!). What happened was that I became more dedicated in my practice.
With this dual approach, I feel like I am working towards something in the short term and I don’t feel pressured to make my long term goals a reality RIGHT NOW.
It’s tough to relay this to your friends at a party because often they just want to talk about their plans for 2020. But I truly believe if you break your desire to make a resolution, and instead change your perspective, you’ll have a happy and healthy 2020.
I’m just like you. My life can be hectic and cooking, cleaning and getting that workout in are sometimes the last thing on my mind. But, I’m here to share my tips and tricks on how to make adulting a little more enjoyable.