AUDIO VERSION: (Transcript below for those who prefer to read instead)
It’s considered a “new beginning” so, why not make the most of a brand new year and start it off by resolving to do something that you feel will make your life better or something that you should do or is trendy to do?
Answer: It won’t work for most people.
If you haven’t started onto that diet or exercise routine, eating healthier, quit smoking, drinking or any plethora of things one can come up with to start doing as a New Year’s Resolution, what makes you think that you’re going to start one after the clock strikes midnight on the 31st of December or 1st of January? A new digit at the end of a year isn’t going to change you from a toad and into a prince or princess. Every day is a new chance and yet, we let that pass without fanfare. Why would midnight at the end of a year be the moment of enchantment where your determination suddenly builds into one of total resolve to accomplish such a goal?
How many times have we all said, “I’ll start Monday morning,” and not done it?
Giving ourselves a deadline to start or end something is perhaps, a good thing as it pushes one towards some sort of aim or target ambition but, how many times has that time frame come and gone and, we’ve started our new patterns but, soon afterwards, we’re back to older routines again? More often than not, we never even get started on it and we re-set that time frame to yet another, distant time where we once again, resolve to change something within ourselves or our lives.
Monday mornings are most often the targeted time. After all, it is the beginning of a new week, right? However, by Monday night, we’ll often find ourselves not having begun and we’ll hear ourselves say, “next Monday” and we’ll come up with a plethora of reasons why we didn’t get a chance to begin whatever it was that we’d pledged to do.
There’s a lot noble about wanting to eat healthier, exercise more, quit smoking or drinking, start writing that novel that we’ve wanted to write forever or whatever else one wants to do in the hopes of bettering their lives but, a new day, a new week, a new month, a new year, doesn’t bring anything magical with it. It’s simply a point in time that we’ve set for ourselves. Mentally, starting anything or stopping anything, does have an advantage if we set a time frame to begin it but, do we really need it on New Year’s Eve or Day or, is it a recipe for disaster?
Actually, it’s a weak piece of ice, waiting to be broken through with the first few steps. Here’s why.
- Holidays are famous for making us feel good. We get those endorphins running through our bodies and we’re set to take on the world but, what happens when they’re over and we’re feeling more like our old selves again? Stressed. harried or even boring days ahead can make us feel less like continuing on than it did during the holidays when we were feeling fairly optimistic.
- While deadlines can bring us determination, they can also become stressful. If we don’t make it or keep it up, we can slump into a pit of either self-loathing or feel that we’re wide open for criticism from others if we stumble and fall, quit or don’t get started.
- Once we’ve passed that deadline or we’ve slipped back into old ways, it’s difficult to get our minds prepared to try it again. We’ve failed a brand new year’s attempts. What’s left? Next week? Next Monday? Next Month or even next year? If we start a new way of being on January 1st or 2nd and we’ve fallen off that wagon by the middle or end of the day, do we start over again the next day or have we missed the boat again and may as well go whole hog back to old patterns?
- Failures set us up to feel like failures. Resolutions are rarely partial or gradual changes. They are more often than not, all encompassing and drastic changes that give us a sense of it’s all or nothing. Gyms know this fact as do the multi-million dollar diet businesses. They gear up for the new year, knowing full well that it’s a make-it or break-it January and February that carry them more throughout the rest of the year. How many new gym or Weight Watcher’s new memberships will get signed for January but, by March, less than 1/3 of those new memberships will still be being used? Not many but, they’ve got your money in abundance in those first 3 months of the new year and that can carry those companies a long way into the next year with profits. They have to find other ways to entice people back into their programs for the rest of the year. Oftentimes, it’s by contracts or chunks of time that they will sell you on.
- Once you find yourself slipping off of the wagon that you booked yourself onto, you’re likely to fall all of the way off and not get back onto it. Did you really need a wagon to be on in the first place or could you have walked or crawled to wherever you wanted to get? Think about that one because chasing after and getting back onto that wagon again, often doesn’t get done.
So, what does work?
- Every day, every moment, is a “new beginning”. Why wait until a specific time of the year to begin something? Any time is a good time but, a new day is usually best. It doesn’t matter if it’s the beginning of the week or the middle of one. Pick a day and start some type of new change.
- Break down that change into smaller, more manageable segments. For instance, weight loss and fitness are the 2 top contenders for new year’s resolutions. Instead of going full tilt into a fitness or diet routine, try changing things slowly. An example might be to start resolving to eat less junk foods first. Eat a piece of fruit if you have cravings for chocolate and cookies but, don’t knock having a cookie now and again either. Drinking more water in a day and slowly cutting down on the sodas or juices will build into having little to none. If fitness is your thing or both eating and fitness, try taking a walk after lunch or walk one flight of stairs then, reward yourself with a glass of water or an apple. Eat and move more normally the rest of the day and perhaps, in a week, you can change something else too?
- If you don’t want to be criticized by others for falling off the wagon, don’t tell them what you’re about to do or try. Just do it. Simply say, “I’m not in the mood for cake right now but, I may have some later,” or “I have some excess energy and need to clear my head. I think I’ll take a walk. I’ll be back in 10 minutes,” or however long you can reasonably do without killing yourself.
- Keep in mind that you didn’t get into the patterns that you’re in overnight so, you’re not going to get out of them overnight either. Few people do. There are some who can throw away that package of cigarettes, bite a wooden spoon, take off everyone’s heads for a week or two or three and be done with it but, for others, it may mean weaning off or onto something. Don’t expect yourself to change completely overnight.
- If you slide back into old habits, don’t let yourself beat yourself up or others do it for you. Simply go back to what you were attempting to do and don’t look back. We all slip up but, it’s not a reason for giving up.
Most of all, remember that anything we try to change about ourselves or our lives, has got to be because we want it for ourselves, not because someone else or society tells us that we have to do it. We’re not going to do it for long if we’re doing it for the wrong reasons or those that aren’t ours to begin with. We need to do it because we want to do it. We cannot make changes under stress. We need to feel good about what we’re doing and why. Even if there are reasons to do it because someone else has told us to do it, we have to recognize that it’s like being a child whose parents are telling them to go to sleep when they’re not tired. We can’t force ourselves to sleep because someone else tells us that we should be asleep. It may actually have the opposite effect to what we set out to do. Set out to do it because you feel the need, not because someone else tells you that you need to do it, unless of course, it’s a matter of life or death. Of course, that’s a time when you simply have to do it. While you do have choice, death is not a likeable path to take for most people.
From my little corner of life to yours, start off the new year with simply learning to change the number you write at the end of the year. That’s enough right there to accomplish. The rest can be brought in, bit by bit and it doesn’t have to start December 31st or January 1st at midnight. Resolve to have no resolutions but rather goals that you’d like to aim for and take as much time as you need to get into it or them. Don’t try to do it all, all at once. That’s a recipe for disaster and remember….every day, moment, week or month is a “new start” even if it takes 20 times to get there. The way to win a race is slow but steady, not fast and hard. You’ll simply burn out or quit if you start off full burn and try to stay that way.
Be well. Love and Light,
Have a great day, evening and Happy New Year.
(Background Music in Audio: Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License