If you are gearing up for 2018, and the hope and promise a new year can bring to your life, good for you for thinking so positively. If you are hoping to make those changes by way of a New Year’s resolution though, prepare to let yourself down.
New Year’s resolutions are by their very nature setting you up to ring in the next year as a total failure. Before the outrage boils over in you and you type out a stream of consciousness text bomb, let me explain.
Resolution comes from the word resolve, which means “to decide firmly on a course of action” or to “settle or find a solution to a problem”. The very terminology works against you, as you are making a firm decision to do or not do something; firm, meaning there is no gray area, no wiggle room. You are adding or removing something from your life for the entirety of your existence.
Or else you are a failure.
You see, a New Year’s resolution isn’t self-improvement or a slight betterment of your situation. It’s an ultimatum which shows you only that whenever life gets in the way, your priorities fluctuate or an emergency happens, you are a failure at that moment. Whether it takes a day or decades, resolutions are destined to get the best of you.
This is not to say you shouldn’t strive for a better life, just that you should consider it differently. Think of the word resolve rather as re-solve, as in you are correcting something once again in your life. That’s all improvement really is, after all; a realignment of priorities to make yourself better off than you were before. If it takes a New Year to set your mind to course correct your behavior, then so be it but please don’t consider it a New Year’s resolution. It’s too unforgiving a path for a brand-new year.
Let’s also take a moment to differentiate between being more mindful of something like cleaning your house more regularly and those who are overcoming crushing addictions, like alcoholism for example. That’s not a resolution; that is life or death. There are people that reclaim control of their lives and maintain it forever and it’s a far superior accomplishment to you cutting out sugar from your diet.
But again, making changes is a great start. Start with something reasonable and just focus on improving that one thing. Maybe it’s choosing to eat healthier food and getting into the good habit of reading labels. Perhaps you are using the benefits of travel nursing to try to visit every state in the Union or learning a new word daily. These are all efforts to improve yourself and you should be encouraged by the effort and not limited by the boundaries of a resolution.
Maybe your goal is to get to the gym 3 times a week, no matter what. The first of the year, the gym is closed. So now you must get in 3 visits amidst your work schedule that week, with excessive overtime due to flu season, while finishing orientation and additional paperwork. You finally get to the gym in a new city only to have to fill out more paperwork, get the required “tour” of the health club and get the hard sell to invest in a personal trainer. When you finally are ready to exercise, you see that 5,000 other people are also there, beginning their failed resolutions and taking up all the good machines. Are you also a failure, for not getting in enough workouts that week? Does the 3 visits matter more than 2 quality workouts? These are the strict guidelines we need to avoid with the silly idea of New Year’s resolutions.
Don’t make your efforts to be better a pass/fail. You’re already better than that.