Is This Normal? New Year’s Resolutions

Written by: Ann O'Neill

Is this the third year in a row your New Year’s resolution has been to get back to your wedding day weight?

Is this the fifth year you’ve resolved to “Get-in-shape-no-matter-what?”

Resolving to “Organize Everything?”

This year, are you resolving to not make any resolutions?

New year. New you.  Right?

Not really.

You will still be you at the end of 2012, and that’s a great thing. But working to improve yourself is a brave and noble undertaking. You can be healthier, more organized, kinder, less stressed, and more productive in 2012.  Then why do so many New Year’s resolutions result only in guilt?

There are a few reasons. One is because the resolution is unrealistic and too far-reaching.  Instead of resolving to return to wedding day weight, maybe resolving to eat healthier is more accessible.  If you reach this resolution earlier than December 2012, it’s time to celebrate and hurrah for you.  You can always make another resolution.  There are no limits on progress.

Another reason is that the resolution might not be specific enough.  What does “get in shape” mean?  Where will “organize everything” begin and end?  Again, start small.  Start with exercising three times a week or start organizing with your bedroom closet.  Success begets success, so don’t diminish small victories.  Every step in the direction of your resolution is a check in the plus column and counts as progress.

People are generally very hard on themselves, and if they have a setback with eating healthy or exercising regularly, they are inclined to call the whole resolution off -withdrawing from the brave and noble task of self improvement!  From the onset of your resolution, accept that there will be setbacks.  You can eat too many Oreos at the recovery table after donating blood or at the Cub Scout meeting.  You might be struck with the February bronchial infection and can’t exercise.  Don’t let the setbacks define your resolution.  You can recover from setbacks.  It will take time to create new routines in your life.

I encourage becoming an even better person than you are.  Self improvement can enrich your life quality. In my experience, there are a few areas in people’s lives that, if addressed, seem to have a universally positive impact.  These aren’t resolutions necessarily but seem to lead to self improvement.  Please take what makes sense to you.

  • Meditate, pray, or think about gratitude. Before going to sleep or while driving in your car, it’s helpful to list three to five things for which you are thankful.  Pay attention to biological changes that occur during these thoughts.  You will feel more calm and more centered.
  • Ask for help when you’re overwhelmed or stuck.  Help might be asking the kids to start dinner before you get home from work or therapy.  Toughing it out when you’re overwhelmed or stuck usually leads to destructive behavior patterns.
  • Regular exercise.  My apologies, I tend to turn to physical exercise as a cure-all, but more and more research indicates the mental benefits of exercise.  It changes brain chemistry for the better.  You don’t have to be a spandex-clad gym dweller.  Walking is a great way to straighten out your head and make your body stronger.
  • Engage in tasks you enjoy.  It sounds almost trite, but most people are too busy to engage in unabashed enjoyment, especially as there’s no tangible reward.  However, engaging in activities you enjoy strengthens yourself and affirms who you are.  Neglecting enjoyment diminishes your sense of self.

Making or not making New Year’s resolutions is normal.  Working on improving yourself is good health.

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