Why I’ve Given Up on New Year’s Resolutions

By: Deon Ambersley, MSW, RSW

I want to first start out by saying I am a New Year’s baby and have absolutely nothing against the holiday. I think it’s a great time of year — a holiday which signifies hope, newness and expectation.

I was once a great defender of resolutions. How could you possibly start the New Year without one? However, the more I have journeyed on my road of self discovery and have assisted others along their way, I am now shifting my thoughts around this.

The reason being is that, often when we think of resolutions, we often think of those things we need to change. We hone in on those bothersome things in our lives and vow to make a change. Which is all well, however this approach doesn’t leave much room for celebration of who you are and what you have accomplished. Rather than focus on what is going well and build on it, it’s often seen as a time to overhaul certain areas of our lives.

What often happens with this approach is that it becomes too much, too soon. This is most likely why gyms are packed in January and the crowd in gone by March. In my experience, goal setting is often not most people’s issue; it’s the execution and staying on course that people struggle with. Getting over those inherent bumps in the road tends to be most people’s challenge. Often times people give up because they make changes which are too strict and are simply not sustainable.

Change is a process and one which may take time. It took time for us to get to where we are, so there may be a bit of time for us to get to where we want to be. As a coach, my job is to assist people in embracing the journey. Helping them identify the changes they can make, which will have a lasting impact. I’ve seen people make amazing transformations, just by changing the way in which they approach their goals. By taking the pressure off themselves and moving into the flow of their lives

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Rather than coming up with a great big resolution, what about looking at those smaller tangible things, which can get you closer to the results you want to achieve? Here are some alternatives to a New Year’s Resolution:

1) Develop a theme for the year. Perhaps your theme is love — so how can you be more loving in each moment? Maybe it’s to health, so what can you do to be a little healthier every single day? What if it’s to be more financially prosperous — where are some of the areas in your life that you can tighten up in order to acquire more money? You’d be surprised how these subtle mindset shifts can have a huge impact on achieving an overall goal.

2) Come up with a list of things you would love to experience for the year. Rather than looking at what you want to achieve, what if you focused on what you wanted to feel or what you want to do? This leaves you more open to experiencing things which you probably didn’t even think of. Perhaps you want to experience more adventure. Rather than have one specific destination in mind, when that travel deal comes up you may be more inclined to pursue something different. Or rather than saying you want to lose 20lbs, maybe focus on wanting to feel comfortable in your clothes again.

3) Use the New Year as a time of reflection on lessons learned and celebration of what you have accomplished. We often are so focused on where we would like to go that we don’t spend time honouring where we have been. In my humble opinion, there is a lesson in everything. The good and especially the bad. How has the previous year helped to take you one step closer to the person you would like to be? From these lessons learned, what are some areas of change you can make? What are some of the things you did well, and how can you do more?

4) Accept your humanness and look at January simply as the start of the calendar year. Every day is an opportunity to hit the reset button. What if New Year’s Eve was a night to celebrate the things you did well, and that was simply it? What if we used the month of January to finds ways to set the tone of the year? What are some things you could do to incorporate more self care in your life? Perhaps book a spa day or treat yourself to a fancy dinner — it could be anything that enhances positive feelings and vibes.

Clients who have worked with me have probably heard me say at some point, “Tomorrow is another opportunity to hit the reset button.” I believe everyday is a New Day and another opportunity to start the year. As we continue to plod through the month of January, I hope we look at the days ahead as many opportunities to enjoy and create a great year.

~Deon Ambersley, MSW, RSW

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