So, here we are, post-New Year’s Day 2020. So many of us start the year off with the best of intentions, with a list of goals written out that we call our “New Year’s Resolutions”. However, there are those (including myself) who believe that calling something our “New Year’s Resolution”, dooms it to failure. It's too absolute. Too much pressure. Too all or nothing. Too much self-flagellation if we skip a beat. When we do “mess up”, we simultaneously blame ourselves and let ourselves off the hook. We abandon our earnestly intended efforts.
So let’s try something different this year: instead of calling it “My New Year’s Resolution”, let’s call it “My Doable Behavior Change”. This frees us up to be human and do our best, without blame and self-flagellation, and with the knowledge that we’ll be able to do it most of the time but if we skip a beat, it doesn’t mean that working on the “Doable Behavior Change” will be doomed to abandonment. Yeah, I know it seems like it’s just semantics but our minds contextualize things differently depending on what’s at stake. This verbal change in context lightens the pressure and helps us understand that we're human beings who aren't perfect.
One of the other convenient things about this is that we can articulate our intentions for our “Doable Behavior Change” as the clock strikes midnight on December 31st, or ANYTIME! One of the reasons we articulate these intentions on December 31st for the coming year, is because we’re all trained as a society to have it be front of mind on that day. And that’s great! But, it’s also great to bring these intentions front of mind at any time! Including the week, the month, 2 months, 3 months or 6 months after New Year’s.
You can even make your “Doable Behavior Change” time-limited to give it a try. How about “for 30 days I’m going to have French fries only once a week”, “for 30 days I’m going to limit my alcohol intake to no more than 1 serving a day”,” for 30 days I’m going to take my BP in the morning and at night”, “for 30 days I’m only going to have 1 can of soda a week”, “for 30 days I’m going to walk 20 minutes each day”... You get the idea. Reevaluate after 30 days. You’re in charge.
That’s it. See what happens. But by all means, it’s not a "New Year’s Resolution”!
Happy New Year!