Thursday, December 27, 2007

Those Silly New Year’s Resolutions

It’s the New Year and I can already feel myself gearing up to “make changes” and “get things accomplished.” I do this every year at this time, and so do many of my clients and friends. There’s something about the start of a new year that energizes me and makes me want to get rid of the old and bring in the new. I hear statements like, “This year I’m going to join the Biggest Loser Club and finally drop all that weight.” “This is the year that I finally get totally organized.” “I’m going to stay out late and party till the cows come home during the holidays, but then, boom! I’m hitting the gym bright and early on January 1st and every day after that this year.” “No more procrastinating for me, I’m changing my whole way of doing things.” (And that’s just from my own mind!)

I’m finally used to my brain going bonkers like this every holiday season and I’ve learned to just observe those silly thoughts as they cross my mind, without believing any of them. I know from experience that I will NOT finally lose all that weight. I will not stop procrastinating and change my whole way of doing things. I will not get totally organized. And I for sure will not be at the gym bright and early on January 1st, since I’ll most likely be up late on New Year’s Eve.

Since I know that when I promise myself the sun, the moon AND the stars I tend to feel too overwhelmed to deliver, I consider the following when making and working through resolutions to myself:

Is This a Resolution I Really Want to Make? — I struggled for years and years to lose weight. Every year I’d drag out the old resolve and tell myself that come summer I WOULD be thin enough to wear a swimsuit without blushing or else. And every summer, I would weigh just the same as I had at the beginning of the year. I finally realized that losing weight was not MY goal. It’s a goal that other people have for me, but it’s not really mine. No matter how much I plot and plan, if I resolve to do something that doesn’t really ring MY bell, I just won’t do it. And neither will you. We accomplish the goals that really matter to us. Find out what yours are and put your energy there.

Is This Resolution Manageable? — I used to make huge, sweeping resolutions (like “I’m going to get my life completely organized”) which would both completely overwhelm me and also involve too abrupt of a change too quickly. The fastest way I’ve learned to change things is by breaking resolutions down into much smaller steps that guarantee my success and that don’t cause much of a ripple in the flow of my existence. The Chinese Taoist philosopher Lao Tzu said, “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” In the resolution that you want to make happen, what is your single step? Find it, take it. What is your next single step? Find that, take that. And on you go, till you’ve accomplished your resolution. And you have done so without overwhelming yourself and without turning your whole life upside down.

How Can I Finish What’s Already In Front of Me? — I love to take things on, and I can often find myself with too many resolutions before I know it. You’ll understand this if you’re the kind of person who functions like I do—the new year isn’t the only time that resolutions can hit me. If you have a list of unfinished resolutions lying around (whether in your head or on paper), consider dealing with them before you add any new ones to your list. There are three ways to handle unfinished resolutions: 1) Finish it or take the next step toward finishing it. If your file drawers really need cleaning out, take some time on a Saturday and do it, or tell yourself that you will do all the ‘As’ this week, all the ‘Bs’ next week and so on. 2) Renegotiate your resolutions. I realized that losing weight wasn’t that important to me, but feeling healthy and being fit was, so I renegotiated the resolution with myself and hired myself a trainer. I haven’t lost any significant weight in the last 6 months, but I can do stomach curls that put leaner women (and some men) to shame. Instead of giving up what I wanted through losing weight, I’ve found a way to get it by renegotiating. 3) Tell yourself it’s done. If you have resolutions that are so old they’ve begun haunting you, finish them by declaring them done. Got a book that’s been sitting around half-read for the last six months?—open it up, flip through the pages and say, “Done.” It works!

Finally, Can I Just Appreciate My Life as It Is? — This year, I’m not making any resolutions, nor finishing up any old business. Instead, I’m treating the new year as just another moment in a lifetime of moments. The reality is that I don’t know what will happen in the next moment, much less the next year. What I do know is that I have an incredibly amazing life right here and right now. What I need to do will be revealed to me in each second. All I need to do is notice it, love it and appreciate it—without resolving that anything needs to be different.

1 comment:

  1. i just LOVE you natalie! you gave me these suggestions last year, when i was counselling with you, during my divorce. i have implemented them (i have a list pinned to my wall, so i can see it and remember to utilize it) and it helps so much. esp "do you really want this?" i realized that alot of the stress i was putting on myself was because i was trying to reach OTHER PEOPLES goal for myself. no more, and i am so much more relaxed.
    you are THE BEST!