Rethinking New Year’s Resolutions

Sarah Daniels

Mental health coach at Ginger. Master in Marriage & Family Therapy and certificate in Systemic Multicultural counseling. Moving towards congruence & wholeness.

Rethinking New Year’s Resolutions

Every year January 1st can feel like a fresh start, a date to stop a habit that’s not serving you, or to start a new habit that you hope will make you feel good. But making a sustainable change overnight isn’t easy, especially when we’re not prepared. In fact, many people give up on their resolutions around January 17th. It’s why that date is known by some as “Quitters’ Day.” If your resolution isn’t going as well as you hoped, or if you’re looking to make a change but haven’t started yet, I’ve got some tips that can help you make a lasting improvement:

Set a New Year’s intention, rather than a New Year’s resolution — Consider your values — what’s important to you — and set an intention to match. An intention is a way to visualize a path forward that’s in line with who you are and how you want to live. It’s a way of being. You can still set goals for yourself, but try to reframe them in a way that’s manageable and that fits with your intention. For example, if you’d like to quit smoking, perhaps that’s part of a larger intention to live more healthfully. It can mean that at first you choose to smoke less, rather than quit cold turkey. Overtime, you can make adjustments to get closer to your intention.

Celebrate your body, rather than shaming it — It’s quite common at the start of the year for people to want to make drastic changes to their diets or exercise routine. This desire to change often comes from external messages that we see in the media year-round. Recognize that bodies come in all shapes and sizes and that trying to make a major change to fit someone else’s ideals might ultimately lead you back to where you started. Instead, if you want to make a change to your routine, do so mindfully while embracing body positivity. Here are a few tips:

Be grateful for what your body can do. For example, say you’re not happy with the way your thighs look. One way to help improve your relationship with your thighs is to try to think about all they are capable of. Do they help you exercise so you can be stronger? Do they make a comforting lap for a child or a pet? This doesn’t mean you’ll completely stop wishing your thighs were different, but it can help you have a more nuanced appreciation for them and allow you to celebrate your body more.

Follow social media accounts that embrace bodies of all shapes and sizes. Counteract the body shaming messages we see every day with messages and images of self-love and positivity.

Be a role model in the way you recognize other people’s qualities. Give compliments on someone’s personality, their generosity, or the way they make you feel, rather than on how they look. Try to avoid commenting on someone’s appearance, whether it’s a new shirt or their weight. Tell children how smart they are instead of how cute they are. Rather than complimenting a child’s dress, mention how impressed you are that they picked it out all by themselves.

Take your M.E.D.S. every day — M.E.D.S stands for meditation, exercise, diet, and sleep.

Meditate: Try to take time out every day to meditate or be mindful of the present.

Exercise: Do some form of movement, like go for a walk or do yoga.

Diet: Think about your nutrition and try to eat foods that give you energy.

Sleep: Get enough sleep for so you feel well rested throughout your day.

Embrace “good enough”- Many people have perfectionist tendencies and end up disappointed with themselves when something isn’t “just right.” Sometimes there are factors, whether external or internal, that make it difficult to do everything perfectly all the time (and really, is anything ever perfect?). Rather than striving for perfection, recognize that sometimes “good enough” is more than OK. Change your expectations for yourself, depending on what else is going on in your life and in the world. To help with this, try the mantra, “I am doing the best I can, and that is all I can expect from myself.”

Seek professional support — Take care of your mental health. Sometimes you may need professional help to be and to recognize your best self. Talk to a coach or other mental healthcare provider who can help.

This past year was a time of adjustment to our new normal. Moving into next year, let’s prepare ourselves for whatever may come by looking for the positive and embracing it. When you are intentional about seeking out the good around you, you’re likely to find it.