gearing up for 2021: ditch the resolution

Whaaaaat? Ditch the resolution? But it’s tradition!

Okay, maybe don’t ditch it completely. But I’m sure it caught your attention – I simply want to encourage you to approach it differently. I used to be obsessed with resolutions; lose weight! Learn a new skill! Get money! (Insert anything that sounds like a remotely fresh start here)! I’m not sure what it is, but I always feel so much lighter at the beginning of new months, and especially new years. I am a “fresh start” fiend. There’s always the people that say “don’t wait for Monday or next month, start now!!!!” and I mean… yes. By all means, do. But sorry, Becky, some of us genuinely thrive off the idea of fresh slates and need the palate cleanser (no offense to anyone named Becky, by the way). I’m not under the impression that just because it’s a new year that all the “bad” will simply be washed away – but for some of us, entering the new year is a time to leave some of the things we can control behind us; to use mind over matter to keep the lessons we learned, but to not let the stresses that aren’t serving us to keep tagging along. While the opportunity to leave what’s behind us in the past is always there, sometimes new year is just the perfect time to make the choice to do so.

Fresh starts. Clean slates. Purging our minds and our physical spaces of the clutter that’s been accumulating, maybe to nearly suffocating amounts. There’s really no better feeling, if you ask me.

I am by no means bashing any method of approaching how someone wants to achieve their goals – if you have the mindset to start fresh on a Wednesday, do it. If you have the discipline to set large, long-term goals, go for it. If the traditional concept of New Year’s resolutions has worked for you before and you thrive from it, keep it up! I’m here for the people who are like me that have good intentions but have trouble getting things to stick; that there are changes you want to see but when life inevitably takes back over and the novelty of your shiny goals has worn off a bit, you trail off and find yourself disappointed and telling yourself “maybe next year” by March.

Ditch the resolutions, focus on habit formation.

Again, I suppose it’s still a resolution in a sense, but tackle it from different perspective. I recently finished reading Didn’t See That Coming by Rachel Hollis and the habits chapter felt like it literally jumped off the page: “In a season of intense change, the habits, rituals, and routines that are ingrained are what sustains you. Motivation is fleeting. Motivation is situational. Your great habits and positive rituals are the anchor you need… not just because they’re good for you, but because your brain isn’t wired to handle intense discomfort and keep making good decisions. In times of grief, crisis, loss, fear, pain, you aren’t well capable of making good decisions, but fall back on whatever you don’t have to think about because your brain function is impaired.” (p.169-171, 176)

I think we can all agree 2020 threw us for a loop and that none of us really got much done that we wanted to, although, had I been more forward thinking I really would have used my down time in quarantine to really take advantage of habit formation. I still experienced numerous kinds of depression and anxiety throughout the year due to the uncertainty and lack of control I had over events from this year; I’m a wellness professional and I still fell off the exercise wagon as soon as gyms shut down – literally no one is immune lol

At this point of the year, all I feel like I can think about is how much of a mess I feel like – laundry is piling, I’m trying to get everything in order for the holidays, trying to recover my finances between various travels, I can’t remember the last time I purposefully exercised or meal prepped a good meal… insanity hit and I feel like I became fairly useless. But I believe in everything being a learning experience, so if anything, this year has taught me the importance of forming good, solid habits and letting them gradually guide me into my goals instead of taking the go-all-in, head-first approach. Instead, I’ve been spending a lot of time meditating on what my ideal day would look like and how I would feel throughout it. I have new professional goals I’m trying to meet, but I keep it separate from this particular visualization because regardless of the job(s) I have, these are areas I want to improve in anyway. I broke my day up into pieces: morning, evening, and overall.

In my mind, on an ideal deal, I wake up early enough to have a slow, restful morning without rushing around the house in order to get to work on time. I want to be able to sip on some coffee, do daily Bible readings, get myself in the right headspace, plan out my day, give my dog a sufficient walk, and get the bed made. Making the bed has never been a habit of mine but it’s something I really want to change – better late than never lol. In the evenings, I want to get back into my routine of exercising after work, and then spend the rest of my night improving my sleep hygiene: reading and stretching more and spending less time in front of screens. As far as my overall days go, I want to be better about my organization + time management, drinking at least 64 oz of water a day and refocusing on nutrient-dense meal preps, doing daily tasks to keep the house cleaned, and regain control of my finances.

Of course, these goals aren’t very specific yet but right now I’m focusing on what is important to me and why. Maybe I’ve developed the habits mindset over time because I know what my bigger goals are, because they’ve essentially stayed the same year after year, but just look a little different as I’m able to check milestones off. I know what I want to see, and instead of focusing on making a lot of big, potentially overwhelming changes all at once, I want to incorporate little things into my day that eventually I won’t have to think about them, and they should naturally push me towards my bigger goals. That’s not to say I never set big goals, because big goals are necessary – but I want my habits to be so ingrained in my day-to-day that I don’t even notice I’m doing them. I personally hate the idea of forcing myself onto treadmill for X amount of minutes a week for the sole purpose of losing a certain amount of weight – I’d rather know that each day, I’m moving my body the way it wants and needs to be exercised in order for it to feel good and look healthy. I’m just as human as the next person so of course there are times I look in the mirror and think about the things I want to change about my appearance, but I want to challenge myself to make it a gentle, daily process done out of love + respect for my mind/body rather than something “forceful” that I might subconsciously take as punishment out of what I dislike about myself.

I really want to emphasize that I’m not trying to trash any particular method of reaching goals. Everyone is different in how they feel they can successfully approach their goals. I just feel like our society is so focused on “set your mind to it and go, go, go until you get it,” which can leave us feeling disappointed in ourselves if + when we (inevitably) lapse. Some people have the mentality to go all in, all at once. But for those of you that don’t, I wanted to encourage you that it’s okay to approach your goals differently and in smaller bites. It’s okay to find balance in challenging yourself but not overwhelming yourself. I believe it’s important to consider how your goals effect you as a whole – mentally, physically, financially, interpersonally, etc – instead of just in the single area/category that goal falls into. You know what you need, why you feel you need it, and what your life looks like to appropriately start implementing the change you want to see.

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