We're more than halfway into January, friend.
It's a new year, and it feels like the right time to become a better version of yourself.
New year, new you so to speak.
So you scribble down some ways you want to change. This WILL be the year you finally travel/learn to cook/become a morning person/insert resolution here.
It's the start of my year, you think to yourself.
Until you find yourself failing at these changes.
Only to go through the whole cycle again on the next New Year's Day.
If resolutions depress you, I get it.
I've done the same myself year after year.
Some years, I never even made resolutions.
What was the point? I knew I was going to fail at them anyway.
But I've realized resolutions are doable, friend.
Here are four things that make following resolutions more complicated than it has to be (+ what to do instead!)...
Let Go Of: Expectations
One reason our resolutions fail is we feel we should do them, instead of actually wanting to do them.
We tell ourselves stories about what kind of people we are, then we feel like we have to do stuff that matches the picture in our heads.
Case in point, people have always said I was a creative artsy type growing up.
And some of those words were right: I was left-handed, I did do a lot of craft projects, and I did draw well enough.
But since I kept telling myself I was an artsy person, I felt I had to do all the creative things. I never bothered asking myself if I really wanted to do them; I just assumed I did.
I'd make goals to build a paper mâché town, crochet a super-detailed scarf, write poetry, develop film photos, decorate cakes with buttercream icing, string bead jewelry, learn the guitar, paint with oils, and so on. (Those are all resolutions I honestly failed at, by the way!)
I was frustrated with how I always seemed to lose steam on these projects. I was the artsy type; what was the problem?
Well, the problem was... I didn't actually enjoy them. I just thought I was supposed to.
And that usually spells disaster for your New Year's resolution.
INSTEAD: BE YOURSELF.
Evaluate the picture of yourself you've formed in your head.
Is this really who you are and who you want to be?
Is the resolution you're shooting for worth the discomfort that comes with change?
Continuing my story, being myself showed me I could be creative without having to be the poster child for the arts.
Just because I played the violin didn't mean I had to learn other instruments.
Just because I enjoyed drawing didn't mean I had to be awesome at all the paper crafts.
Especially if I didn't want to.
I picked through my failed hobbies for stuff I was actually interested in.
I ended up enjoying my creative projects more.
Let Go Of: Self-Doubt
Sometimes, we fail because of the voice in our heads.
You know, the voice that tells us we have no idea what we're doing. We listen to these doubts and start to believe them.
Why try? We'll fail anyway.
And when we do try without dealing with our doubts, that voice gets louder and louder. When we listen to it, we give up on our resolutions mid-way.
INSTEAD: PUT THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE.
Yes, we often have no idea what we're doing.
That's the nature of change: stepping out into situations we're not fully comfortable in.
If we knew exactly what would happen, we're not making changes at all.
So accept the uncertainty.
And when your doubts bother you, ask yourself this one question:
What's the worst that could happen?
Seriously, what's the worst? Visualize the worst case scenario if you failed your resolution.
We often imagine things to be bigger than they are, and dread a monster failure. We lose perspective.
But answering this question helps us gain back that perspective. Many times, we realize we fear things that are unlikely to happen. Or at least, the fail isn't as epic as we think it will be.
And that quiets down our doubts, and helps us move forward.
Let Go Of: FOMO
Familiar with FOMO, otherwise known as the fear of missing out?
This is when you try new things not because you really want to, but because you don't want to regret missing the experience.
Like when last November found me in a part of Japan I'd never been before.
I resolved to experience everything awesome in the region. No way was I wasting the time I had there; there's so much to see!
So I researched and planned and packed my trip with fun activities. Among other things, I rode a rowboat surrounded by mountains covered in autumn trees, I zipped through seven rides in the one day I'd set for visiting amusement parks, I window shopped until past midnight almost every day, and I took the train to see a Japanese castle everyone said was fantastic.
At the end of that trip, I was exhausted. I had my eye on the clock throughout my trip to Japan, and spent a lot of time playing catch-up to my impossible schedule. I couldn't even remember all the places I'd visited; seemed like I'd gone through them so fast.
I was so focused on seeing everything that I missed the most important thing: enjoying my supposedly relaxing (hah!) vacation.
To be honest, I probably was more relaxed before I went on that vacation!
In the same way, we often have resolutions we decide to do cause we're afraid we'll regret not doing them. We don't want to look back years from now and wish we had decided on different goals.
But when we treat our resolutions as a laundry list of things to be checked off a.s.a.p., we miss the point of making resolutions.
INSTEAD: SAVOR YOUR RESOLUTIONS.
How can we change in a specific way when we're focused on getting over resolution after resolution as fast as we can?
Instead, let's shift our focus to being present in each moment as we begin changing our lives.
When we make this shift, we make the journey to fulfill our resolutions meaningful. We become glad to do them instead of dreading going through them.
Let Go Of: Perfectionism
Perfectionism's a tricky thing.
Without wanting to improve, we wouldn't be making resolutions in the first place.
But when we decide to keep perfect standards, we get discouraged about not reaching them. Even discouraged enough to just give up trying.
INSTEAD: REALIZE PERFECT'S OVER-RATED.
We can choose to let go of the desire to accept only perfection in our goals.
Progress over perfection, in short.
Because 99% of the time, good enough is often, well, good enough.
The endpoint is change, my friend.
When you change your life in a lasting way, you'll win at your New Year's Resolutions.
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