“This year, I’m going to __________ (insert resolutions that are hardly ever achieved such as “lose 10 pounds,” “eat healthier,” “exercise more,” and the list goes on).”
Creating a New Year’s resolution is a tradition for so many of us, but how many times have we set a resolution and completely forgot about it by March? New Year’s resolutions have a time and a place, but the majority of the time, they can actually hurt our well-being. We begin with high energy and motivation, but as soon as we mess up, we’re likely to fall back to old habits. This might make you think … maybe this year, I shouldn’t set a New Years resolution…and search for something else instead. Below are some reasons why you resolutions don’t work, and some intentions to consider setting instead.
5 Reasons NOT to set a New Year’s Resolution
1. Your goals are unattainable
One big mistake people make when choosing a New Year’s resolution is that they choose
a goal that is unattainable for their current season of life. If I say, “I want to run a
5k this year,” but I don’t have access to running routes and lack the time to run,
this goal is probably going to be unattainable for me at the moment. Choose an activity
that is realistic for your lifestyle. Setting a goal to walk for 20 minutes three times per week may be more realistic than running a three miles every day.
2. Your resolution is too broad
For example, let’s say your goal is to “spend more time with my family.” This goal has great intentions, but there’s nothing to back it up. Resolutions need support to make it sustainable in the long run. The only way to achieve a major goal is to start small. Start by picking a small action that you can start doing in the first week of the year. Here an example would be to “have a family game night at least once a week.” This goal is specific, realistic, and attainable. When creating goals for yourself, use SMART goals to keep yourself accountable and organized.
3. You aren’t targeting the root of the behaviors you want to change
It’s hard to stop habits cold turkey when you’re not dealing with the root of the issue. Let’s take binge eating for example. Binge eating is the result of something that is going on internally. You have to learn why you are binging in the first place before you can change the behavior. In a situation like this, we recommend working with a registered dietitian skilled in disordered eating (like Allison!) and a counselor to discover the reasons why you may be exhibiting these behaviors.
4. Your goals are “negative” based
A negative based goal is a goal that is trying to fix something that is “wrong” in your life. Having negative based goals can leave you feeling guilty and lazy for messing up or not following through with your plan. Instead of fixating on parts of your life that aren’t ideal, magnify your strengths. When you magnify or multiply what is going right in your life, you will gain the momentum and motivation you need to improve your well-being. Ask yourself, “what am I already good at?” and build your goals from there.
5. You don’t have the right mindset
Maybe you’ve made the decision to create some sort of change, but on the inside, you’re not ready to take the necessary steps in order to make that change. You haven’t made that internal shift yet. To reach your goals, you must be willing to make some changes in your lifestyle. It’s going to be uncomfortable because, well, change IS uncomfortable. Are you willing to be uncomfortable to make a change? If so take action! If the change is worth it, create space and make time in your lifestyle to implement that change. Set yourself up for success. If now isn’t the time in your life to take action towards a goal, that’s okay! Seasons come and go. Try and reevaluate your circumstances in a month or so to determine whether or not you’re ready to take the net step, and be sure to build a support team around you to help you get there.
Set A New Year’s Intention Instead
New Years resolutions typically are external actions or desired outcomes while intentions are internal power and long term change.
Think about it this way, a resolution may be, “to lose weight.” Instead let’s flip that to set you intention “to listen to my body” Later down the road, weight loss may occur because you could be eating more vegetables, enjoying your movement, and learning how to cope with stress. Instead of implementing rigid practices through goal setting, intentions focus on practicing kindness towards your body.
The purpose of an intention is to cultivate a desire you wish to live by. Start by evaluating the things you would wish to see more of in your life. From there, we need to dig a little deeper and discover the root of that desire.
When looking at areas you wish to see more of, does it come from a sense of loneliness in your life? Does it stem from feeling inadequate or not good enough? Is there guilt? Shame? Do you have low self-esteem? These are deep questions to ask yourself, and you may feel some vulnerability trying to answer them. Choose your intentions based on these feelings.
Examples of New Year’s Intentions
- Cultivate joy
- Stay grateful
- Practice mindfulness
- Simplicity (do less)
- Self compassion
- Be vulnerable
- Show love to others
- Keep an open mind
- Share your unique gifts
- Be brave
After deciding your intention, create small action steps that you can do to help you be more intentional this year. If your intention is to “be more present,” a small action you can do a few times a week is to practice breathing for three minutes or journaling for three minutes. This only takes three minutes out of your day, and it’s allowing you to be more intentional about staying present.
Connect with yourself and ask, “What are some things that bring me the most energy and joy in my life?” Be clear with yourself and the things you want to cultivate, and write it down on a sticky note or a notebook. Remember, there is no right or wrong when it comes to your intentions. You cannot pass or fail. Use these handwritten messages as a reminder to pick up where you left off no matter where you are in your intention journey.
Make this year the year of intentionality. Connect and discover the things you truly need for yourself. Wishing you all the best in the New Year!
-Written By Gabby Childers, Brittany Jones Nutrition Intern