So the end of January is beckoning… and we have a question for you…What are your New Year’s resolutions this year? Were they realistic? Were they achievable? Were they dangerous? Are you smashing your new year goals or did you set yourself up for sure failure? If it’s the latter, we’ve got an idea for you how about we completely turn this New Year Resolutions thing on its head and make anti-resolutions instead?
I mean, really… New Year’s resolutions…why do we do this to ourselves? It’s like an annual exercise in self-torture. We set lofty goals that more often than not all by the wayside even before January draws to a close. We rip the laminated list off the fridge and stuff it in the back of a draw. We throw out all the diet books, self-help guides, and abandon our carefully laid plans.
They’re too much like hard work. There’s so much else going on. And really, if you were already getting by just fine without them, why bother?
The problem with New Year’s resolutions is that they tend to be things that really do bother us, either on a conscious or unconscious level. They’re important to you. For example…
You know you need to lose weight, for your health, for your confidence, for that baby you crave, or simply for the joy of wearing the clothes you love that aren’t sold in your current size.
There’s an ideal in your head, a particular size. Maybe it’s the size you used to be in your twenties. Maybe it’s the size of the models sporting your favourite brand. Maybe it’s the size your doctor tells you is essential for your diabetes, your heart condition, or your fertility treatment?
Whatever the origin of the ideal, it’s there, and it tells you one thing:
“Anything less than this and you’re not good enough.”
And so when your thoughts turn to what you want to achieve this year, that treacherous ideal rears her head again and taunts you, “One year from now you could be like me! You can do it!”
So you set your goal. You will lose two stone, five stone, ten stone, or twelve. However many it takes to reach the target weight. You will subsist entirely on smoothies, pound the pavement every day, join the gym, hire a personal trainer, read every diet book going, and you will lose that weight. All of it. Every pound.
This is your New Year’s resolution.
But are you really going to succeed? In fact, is your goal even healthy? What will you really need to do to reach your goal? Eat less? Eat more veg?
Stop eating entirely?
When your target is so incredibly difficult to achieve… when you have told yourself that it’s this or nothing, anything less and you’ve already failed…
You will no longer be capable of celebrating your achievements, because you are focused entirely on your perception of failure.
Weight loss may not be your personal demon. You might be focused on your physical fitness, the desire to become a master yogi, run a marathon, or gain a black belt in karate.
Or is your education or business the source of your goals? Perhaps you vowed to hit £100K turnover this year and you only managed £50,000. Sure, last year you were barely earning enough to pay tax, but that’s not the point!
The nature of goals…
Goals are funny old things. They can spur us on, help us to be really clear on what we’re doing and why, help us to focus, plan, and consistently achieve greatness…or they can blindside us and blow all our efforts right out of the water.
Not because we’re incapable of reaching goals, but because we have been unrealistic about some element of them, and it’s usually time.
New Year’s resolutions come with a built-in expiration date. You have 12 months, not a day more. You hit your goal in that period or it’s game over.
And because we have size six fashionistas, yogis, marathoners, and self-made millionaires in our head; because these are the goals we set ourselves, we are almost doomed to fail from the start.
No matter how much progress you make towards your unfeasible goals, how much you do actually achieve in those 12 months, come the end of the year you still feel like a failure.
Worse still, you may get a month or two in and realise your progress isn’t anywhere near fast enough. You’re never going to be able to reach your target.
So you might as well give up now.
What’s the point in trying when it’s so utterly impossible?
Unrealistic expectations set you up for failure
With the best will in the world, the likelihood of success is slim from the get go.
Anti-resolutions and reality…
There is something beyond the danger of an unrealistic resolution, and that is a resolution that is unhealthy, even if you do succeed in achieving it.
Consider the obsessive dieter. Do they need to lose a little weight? Probably. Do they need to become a size 6? Probably not.
What of the yoga enthusiast determined to master that handstand scorpion pose in a single year? We caught up with Christine Judd, a Lomi Lomi and Yoga Teacher, and Holistic Business Coach, to get her opinion on how realistic it is to go from a novice to a master in the space of a year. Here’s what she had to say…
“It’s like the old adage: you can’t learn to run before you can walk. Yoga is the same. You can’t expect to learn advanced postures until you’ve mastered the basics. You have to develop the core strength and flexibility that are essential for a pose like the scorpion. You might be able to get into the pose with external support from your teacher, but you won’t be able to sustain it, and the risk of injuring yourself is a lot higher, because you don’t have the internal support needed. That has to come from within, and it takes time, there is no way to rush it!”
So what’s the solution? Should we resolve to abandon New Year’s resolutions?
What if we all decide this year to do things differently?
What if we made anti-resolutions instead? What if we flipped the focus of thoughts, and concentrated on transforming the resolutions we do make into something less dangerous, more realistic, and more nurturing?
This could be simple…
“It’s unrealistic to believe I can lose five stone in one year. My health might suffer, and I’ll never maintain it. I’ll aim for two stone instead, and lose more weight next year…”
How about making peace with yourself as you are?
“I’m going to spend 2018 focusing on eating wonderfully nutritious food, and learning to love myself more.”
What if we set ourselves realistic, achievable goals to begin with?
- Lose a stone, maybe even two;
- Start daily yoga practice and master an intermediate pose;
- Run regularly and finish a 5K (or even a 10K!) before the end of the year;
- Take karate lessons and advance beyond beginner level;
- Boost your business turnover by £10K;
Doesn’t this sound better?