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Do you know that New Year’s Resolution that you make every single year? Yeah, that one. The one that has plagued you for years, but you never give up hope… and like clockwork, every January 1st you make a promise to yourself that you are finally going to lick that bad lifestyle choice. Well, chances are, you are going to fail again this year. Here’s why that’s OK:
Failure is not a four letter word. Failure can actually be your best friend because it ends up teaching you something about yourself that you didn’t know beforehand. You learn about your limits, triggers, rewards, and the ultimate reasons behind your decisions.
Let’s take the most popular New Year’s Resolution in America – losing weight. Have you noticed the increase in commercials about losing weight in the latter month of December and the offers of free trials at your gym? The media exploits America’s love affair with the obsession to lose weight at the beginning of every year. Heck, the media might even be propagating it now. You have to wonder — is the decision to lose weight your own, or a reaction to the fifty different commercials that are telling you to lose weight? Are you failing at your New Year’s Resolution every year because you never actually took ownership of that decision, but rather just going with the flow of traffic?
Realizing that your resolution to lose weight was more of a knee jerk reaction to the time of year can give you clarity on what you really want to change in your life. Instead of the generic ‘lose weight’ to become a better version of yourself, maybe what you really want is deeper than that – to accept and love yourself as who you are now.
If you are saying to yourself right now, “Yeah, I make a resolution to lose weight every year, and I know that’s what I want, but I’m still failing at it…” First, take a moment to congratulate yourself. The important thing is that you want to change. You have the essential spark behind any major life change – the acknowledgment of a problem and the desire to improve yourself.
One tip is to take a step back and look at yourself through the ‘best friend lens.’ In other words, pretend you are a caring and loving best friend who has sat you down on the couch and is critically reviewing all of the decisions you’ve made over the last year while comparing them to the goal you set out for yourself at the beginning of the year. See yourself through an outsider’s viewpoint. Your best friend might say:
“You said you wanted to get healthier and you even joined a gym, but you never went to any of the Zumba classes.”
“I really wanted to but I could never find the time.”
“But, sweetie, you always seemed to have time to go to a restaurant after work….”
Examine the excuses you made throughout the year and even say them out loud, and feel the reaction you have to your own words. It might dawn on you that you have been sabotaging yourself without even realizing it.
Consider this. Where on the scale of priorities is ‘losing weight’ (or quitting smoking, as another example) for you? You may want it badly, but you may also be placing ten things above this desire that get in the way of you reaching that goal. If you want to quit smoking, but you can’t because you use it as a coping crutch to help you deal with your insanely stressful job, or if you use food as a reward for being able to slog your way through another day at the office – well, you’re putting your short-term happiness over and above your long-term happiness. Immediate gratification is the beast you have to slay in order to achieve your long term goal. Let your past failures show you that, year after year, you’ve chosen the short-term over your long-term, and yet you are still unhappy. Use this revelation to your advantage. Arm yourself with knowing what changes need to happen in order for you to make this year a successful one.
Curious about other resources to help you in the new year? Check out New Year, New Podcast to Listen To and A New Relationship for a New Year. Also, if you are interested in personal growth counseling, check out our resources and contact us for an appointment.