I have mixed feelings when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions. On one hand, the intention behind them is admirable. I appreciate the idea of setting annual goals for oneself and maybe trying to complete that memoir that we’ve been toying with for the last few years. But on the other hand, I’ve never uttered the words ‘New year, new me’ and I cringe just thinking about all of the calligraphy quotes that will flood my Instagram feed with that phrase in the next week or so.
One reason for the jaded sentiments towards the annual tradition could stem from the low chances of seeing them through. Plenty of people make goals with little motivation to actually achieve them.
So where are we going wrong? What constitutes as a “good” New Year’s Resolution? Personally, I think the key lies in making strides towards our end goal. Our biggest pitfall with the traditional resolutions is that they take time and when we don’t see immediate results, we get frustrated and give up. So before we start declaring we’re going to qualify for the Boston Half-Marathon with not having run a mile in the last year, let’s keep things in perspective. The following New Year’s Resolutions might be good alternatives than the traditional go-tos.
Rather than: Eat healthier
Alternative: Treat your body as a machine
We all say we want to eat healthier, but as soon as someone brings in those fresh/free donuts to the office, it’s ‘I’ll start after this.’ I’m not saying you have to deprive yourself because who wants to live a life without refined sugar. It’s all about what your daily habits are, so having the occasional indulgence is ok. I never thought of food the way I did until I starting training for a half-marathon. If I didn’t eat food that had substantial nutrition I saw a dramatic dip in my energy (mind blowing, I know). Even if you aren’t training for anything specific, we all know that feeling of getting fast food and then feeling exactly like that greasy wrapper it came in. The benefit of this perspective is that it’s not about the number on the scale. Eating healthier and being skinny aren’t the same goal. If you really want to focus on getting healthier focus on how you want to feel during the day. Do you want to feel sluggish right before you meet up with friends? Do you want to sugar crash right before a big meeting at work? Your body is going to perform on how you maintain it.
Rather than: Stop drinking
Alternative: Plan activities during the day
We tell ourselves time after time of waking up with that dizzy and disorienting feeling that we are going to stop drinking. Our emotional and anxiety hangover oftentimes is worse than the physical ailments of one too many gin and tonics. The reality is we’re most likely going to have those nights we probably wish we would have alternated one more water in between drinks, and that’s fine on occasion. We just need to a bit more conscious of our decisions. A good alternative is to focus less on what we’re doing at night and plan an activity that requires us to be a normal functioning human being during the day. There’s more to life than going out and having drinks. Buy those tickets to that art exhibit you’ve been hearing about. Meet friends for coffee. It’s a win-win situation, you can feel like you are becoming an adult and your liver and bank account will really appreciate it.
Rather than: Vowing to lose 15 pounds
Alternative: Broaden your workout horizons
It’s no surprise that “getting fit” was ranked as the No. 1 New Year’s Resolution in 2015, and basically every other year. Few quotes in cinematic history have ever resonated with us as much as “I really want to lose three pounds.” Tina Fey hit the nail on the head for girls unwavering determination to lose weight. We live in a world with unfair and unrealistic beauty standards for women. However, circling back to what was said earlier, we should focus on getting healthier rather than fixating on the number we see on a scale. Taking strides towards losing weight should be the goal. My advice is Class Pass. There are few things worse than the New Year’s Resolutions crowd at the gym. Waiting 30 minutes for a treadmill is not conducive to you getting in shape. Class Pass let’s you hop around at a variety of types of workout classes from barre to yoga at different locations, so you don’t lose interest. Also it pushes you try new things. I can’t say I would have dangled from the ceiling in two pieces of a fabric if I hadn’t purchased a membership.
Rather than: Get a new job
Alternative: Learn a new skill
You’re just around the corner of hitting your three-year work anniversary. You wake up, clock in, deal with the same people, get your work done and clock out. You no longer have the same motivation you once did and everything feels a bit too comfortable. All it took was re-watching Kevin Spacey in American Beauty on Netflix to think ‘doesn’t sound like a bad idea.’ But before you decide to blackmail anyone and demand your one-year severance package, think about other ways you can fulfill yourself creatively. Take a class. Write more. Get involved in something that you can get excited for and also learn. A common misconception we have is that we can only take a class if it’s required or directly applicable to our career. Maybe you work in finance, but always liked writing. Who says you can’t take a night class or online language course. Regardless of whether it leads you to a new career or not, it is letting you utilize your brain in a different way that you might not be while at work.
Rather than: Finding a significant other
Alternative: Put yourself out there more
This should be pretty self-explanatory why it shouldn’t be on anyone’s list of New Year’s Resolutions. Finding a significant other isn’t a skill that you can master by watching a YouTube tutorial (unfortunately). Not only are we placing unnecessary pressure on ourselves we might wind up in a relationship based on nothing but wanting someone to fill that void. Dating is uncomfortable because we all become vulnerable. There’s only so long you can be coy about someone that you actually have feelings for. I’ll admit one of my biggest flaws is pretending to not like someone or show any affection in order to have the upper hand in case things don’t pan out. In an effort to look hard and unaffected by love, I act indifferent and sometimes flat out mean. We need to be ok with being vulnerable. It’s not weakness; it’s just a part of dating.
If you haven’t noticed most of these resolutions have one common theme which is to try to do something we haven’t in past. Whether you end up changing your career or committing to a new fitness regime, it all has to start with some sort of change. In the words of Albert Einstein, “Nothing happens unless something moves.”
Editor’s note: This is a guest post from (much loved) contributor Becky May