Breaking Up With New Year Resolutions

By THERESA WELLS, Connect Columnist

Show of hands: how many of you made resolutions for the New Year? How many of you, just a few days in, have already broken those resolutions? How many of you believe you will still be holding up your end of the deal on those resolutions in, say, June?

It’s not exactly a scientific poll, but there you have it. If you are like me, someone who has made resolutions to see them fail, you are currently wincing a bit and feeling like a failure because you made resolutions based on some arbitrary date, likely with little planning or strategy behind them, and now look back with chagrin. And that, my friends, is why resolutions are for chumps.

It really all begins with the whole “New Year” thing, as January 1 is of course an entirely arbitrary date, but somehow we have hitched our resolution wagon to it like it is the finest steed in the stable. Truth is, any resolutions that begin on the day following what is for many people the most epic hangover-making night of the year seem cruel beyond belief. It’s all: “Happy New Year, drink a bottle of champagne, then drag your battered, bruised and possibly still intoxicated body to the gym!” – meaning most people really begin their resolution fulfillment on January 2 and feel a bit like failures right off the bat.

The resolutions themselves are easy to make – it’s the fulfillment part that is desperately tricky. Resolving to eat better without developing a meal plan, resolving to get fit or lose weight without figuring out how to fit it into your daily schedule, resolving to watch less television when you KNOW the next season of House of Cards comes out in spring… no wonder failure is imminent.

I read a fascinating article recently that speculated that many of us want to achieve our goals, but we don’t want to go through the pain and work of getting there. Sure! We want to lose weight, but we don’t want to spend hours sweating in a gym or munching on lettuce. We want to succeed in our careers and our relationships, but we don’t feel we should have to put in the hours of work and effort it takes to make it happen. We want the destination, but not the journey, and resolutions feed into that because we want to make the easy self-promises but we don’t really want to do what it takes to fulfill them.

The entire concept of resolutions for the New Year has become a joke, a laugh among us, as we know how often they are made and subsequently broken. There are undoubtedly a few who make these self-promises and then fulfill them, but they are the ones who could have made the same promise to themselves in June and carried it out, because they have committed to the journey, not just the destination.

I gave up the idea of resolutions for the New Year some time ago. I now have goals that revolve and change over time, and I set out on them not based on an arbitrary date, but on a desire to make some sort of change in my life.

I gave up the idea of resolutions for the New Year some time ago. I now have goals that revolve and change over time, and I set out on them not based on an arbitrary date, but on a desire to make some sort of change in my life. I develop a strategy and a plan, I hold weekly check-ins with myself (those can be difficult meetings as sometimes I need a good talking-to on goal fulfillment, too) and I recognize that one has to traverse the road to arrive at the destination – because if you aren’t willing to travel the road, you probably never really wanted to be at the destination, anyhow.

So, if you are sitting there this early January, surrounded already by broken pieces of your resolutions, don’t despair. Take those resolutions and figure out which ones are the ones you are truly willing to travel the road to achieve, whatever that road takes to navigate (and it will not always be an easy road, trust me). Dust them off, call them goals, develop strategies, resurrect them and tell the idea of New Year resolutions to go stuff itself as you have a new path. You’ve gone rogue and you won’t be tied to some arbitrary date to achieve your goals, you maverick! And then start taking steps, maybe small ones, to achieve those goals. Monitor your progress over the months, not yearly, forgive the small setbacks and celebrate the leaps forward. And stop beating yourself up over New Year’s resolutions, because I can guarantee that they got over you long before you’ve gotten over them. Break up with them like a bad boyfriend/girlfriend and start dating some real goals. You’ve moved on to a new relationship, and broken the resolution addiction cycle. Show of hands: how many of you feel better? Now that’s a show of hands I like to see!

– Connect Weekly –