This morning I was watching the Kathie Lee & Hoda show (vacation), and they had a segment all about the food you need to eat before you start eating well on New Year’s day. Here’s why it bothered me and why it should bother you: The moment you give yourself permission to put something off, what you’re really telling yourself is that it’s not important.
Anything feels possible in a new year. It’s easy to envision success when the slate is clean. But when the slate starts to get dirty (and it will…we’re human, after all), sometimes it feels easier just to give up rather than readjust or continue to work towards something. For example, “I ate a donut today, might as well eat these chips, too, and I’ll be better and eat a salad tomorrow.” I know I’ve been there. We’ve all been there. But the second you start saying, “I’ll do that just as soon as x happens” or “I’ll start that tomorrow,” you’re in trouble.
That’s why New Year’s resolutions are not what you should be making this year.
Instead, use the new year as an opportunity to reflect on what you accomplished this year and set new goals for yourself. You can actually do this whenever and as often as you need to — daily, weekly, monthly. Last year, I shared my goals and then did a mid-year check-in to figure out where I needed to readjust my focus. But do what works for you.
What’s most important is that you treat your goal-setting and development as always in-progress and as something that starts today, not tomorrow.
If you really feel compelled to make some type of resolution, make it something that’s overarching or inspirational. Some people pick a word they can repeat to themselves when they feel like they’re getting off track. An emotion to work towards, like “joy.” Or something more actionable like, “health.” I like this better because it’s not a “do or die” goal that you can give up if you steer off course. Again, the important thing is to work towards your goals daily and not to set yourself up for failure. If your goal is to write a book, write at least a little bit every day, even when you don’t feel like it. If your goal is to lose 10 pounds, don’t beat yourself up over how much you ate over the holidays: Start by walking a little bit every day. Do what you know can’t hurt. Walking 15 minutes can’t hurt my goal. Writing for 20 minutes may not get a chapter done, but it can’t hurt, either.
Something I like to do is to keep a daily log. At this point it’s not really a diary or journal, it’s simply a record of what I did so that I can look back and reflect on where I was productive or what I could change. I’m a person who has trouble relaxing, and it’s easy for me to become hard on myself after having a lazy day, so I often go back to my log to look back on everything I did in the past week or on the weekends. When I see how much I actually accomplished, it makes it easier for me to take a day to read or relax with my family. And if I take too much time to do absolutely nothing, I can see that, too, and get moving.
Again, the best way to achieve your goals, whether you have a list like I did last year, or an overarching theme, is to work at them daily. It’s that simple. As long as you do something related to your goals every day, you’re getting closer. Do what can’t hurt. Use the new year as a time to reflect on your progress, but don’t use your resolutions as an excuse to fail.