Aah, 2020's finally here. A new year. A new decade. A new you? Social Media is full of 'habits to let go of in 2020', 'the 10 best new year's resolutions', 'these five resolutions will change your life in 2020'. So we all set out to be the best version of ourselves - and then give up halfway through January. The statistics on this are shocking! Gyms fill up and empty again around the 20th of January. People wake up one hour early, motivated to start the day with meditation, well-cooked food, time for themselves... and then quit in early February.
Why are we not able to stick to our resolutions?
I want to get into that in this post and give you a bit of a different view on how to set your resolutions this year and how to make sure you actually keep them. Here are 6 things to remember when it comes to new year's resolutions.
1. Start from a place of love
Raise your hand if you have started out setting your resolutions from a place of 'this is not good enough, and I have to improve it' - typing with one hand right now, as I've always done this.
There's nothing wrong with wanting to improve at all. In fact, it's healthy to want to become a better and healthier person. But if you start setting your resolutions with a sense of 'this needs to improve, that isn't good enough, you failed there...' I feel like it already gives it a negative taste and adds huge pressure to be perfect in the next year.
Instead, I encourage you to ask yourself the following questions before you even start setting your new year's goals.
1. What did I overcome last year that I didn't think I would?
2. What was my biggest achievement last year?
3. What am I most proud of looking back at the last year?
This will start you off with a positive mindset instead of one of 'I'm a failure that didn't do well last year.'
2. Setting your resolutions
Okay, team, this is a big one.
I used to have about 10 different resolutions and none of them were small. One example that I know a lot of people struggle with is losing weight. Here's what would always happen to me: My resolution would be to lose 10lbs. With that came: Going to the gym five times a week, working out 1.5h each session, No junk food whatsoever, no food after 6 pm... And remember, losing weight was just ONE out of my TEN resolutions and it entailed ALL THAT.
Here's the deal: You will most likely not be able to stick to this goal and here's why: If you currently don't go to the gym, eat junk food three times a week, and have a midnight snack every night, do you really think you're just gonna be able to quit these things all at once?
Because that's what most of us do, we don't go in with the mindset of: By the end of the year, I want to do XYZ, we expect immediate change. So you're basically expecting yourself to go from never exercising to exercising five times a week right off the bat, from eating junk food to never eating junk food ever again.
I encourage you to give yourself TIME.
Some goals and resolutions cannot be achieved right away. Why not start by saying: I'm gonna go to the gym two times a week for 30 mins each session. And I know that doesn't sound as glorious and isn't as 'sexy' and fun and 'bragworthy,' but it is possible. You can always build up on that throughout the course of the next few months. Slowly increase one thing until it becomes a habit and then add the next thing on and do the same there. I guarantee you; you will actually stick to your resolution by doing it this way versus going all in right away with no room for failure.
3. What's your WHY?
The next part that goes into setting your resolutions and keeping them is the most important one in my opinion. It is the motivation behind your resolution. The WHY. If we stick with the example of losing weight, WHY do you want to lose 10lbs? Is it because society says that you have to weigh XYZ? Is it because everyone else in your workplace is skinnier? Is it because some jerk ditched you and you think it may be because of your weight? Or do you want to do it for YOU. Because you want to feel good and comfortable in your skin?
If you start out by setting a resolution for ANYONE BUT YOU, you will fail. I guarantee it.
I never lost 10lbs, do you wanna know why? Because I feel good in my body the way it is. Yes, every now and then (ahem, over the holidays) I gain a few pounds and I feel sluggish and uncomfortable in my skin, so I make sure to get back to feeling comfortable and healthy in my own skin. But I'm doing this for ME, because I feel uncomfortable, not because I feel like I have to be skinner in order to be liked or accepted.
I never lost the 10lbs because I did it to try and fit in with 'others,' whoever these 'others' may have been. But after about ten years of having the same resolution and never actually getting there, I realized that I never will because it came from a place of insecurity and shame. I did it for THEM, not for ME. (We'll get a lot more into the topic of loving yourself and your body in the next few months.)
Ask yourself about the WHY behind your resolutions. And if you're doing it to please others. Drop it. Right now.
4. Be prepared for setbacks
I'm just gonna stick with the weight loss theme here. I know it's incredibly popular and it's the one I struggled with every year. Whenever I told myself I'd lose weight, I'd go all-in, as described above. Then, a birthday came along, a work party, a night out... and I had a cocktail and ate things that I shouldn't (sidenote: we'll also get into the word 'should' a lot more over the next few months. Spoiler alert: I strongly dislike that word). So after that night out or birthday or whatever it was, I gave up for the week because I thought: Well, I already 'cheated' so may as well go all-in with overeating for the rest of the week. Well, after that week I felt like the month was already ruined now, as I ate 'bad' for a whole week... and so on.
Let me tell you something: There's always gonna be a birthday or a night out. Or a Snack attack you simply can't resist. Or you're getting sick for a week and don't go to the gym during that time (naturally). There will be days you fall off the wagon, times you give in. But once you can accept that and realize that it's gonna happen, getting back up will become a lot easier.
Accept that you will have an off day or two. Or even an off week. It's not that big of a deal and it's definitely no reason to give up.
Make sure you have a plan for when that happens. Whether that's a note you write yourself now that you take out and read on a day like this, or a friend that you include in this, someone to help you get back up.
Sidenote: This is also why it's important to set realistic resolutions. Resolutions for YOU. Don't set a resolution that will make your life miserable, it's gonna be a lot harder to stick to it and even harder to get back up when you fall off the wagon because it's not even anything you truly WANT to do or improve.
5. Check in with yourself
This is something you may have to do more in the beginning and once your resolution starts to set in and become a habit, less and less.
But it's important to keep checking in with yourself and make sure you're still on the right track or if there are old habits and patterns you've started to adapt again. To start off, I would recommend to check in every day, set your resolution afresh each morning, then check in and see how you did in the evening.
As the weeks and months progress, you can change that to once a week, every two weeks or even once a month if you feel like you got it down and are on the right path.
6. Don't be afraid to change course
It may happen that you suddenly realize that the path you have chosen is not the right one. I'm not talking about an off day or about being too lazy to keep going, no. I'm talking about a fundamental feeling of: I'm headed int he wrong direction. This way will not lead me towards the woman I want to be. You will know the difference, and if it actually, genuinely doesn't seem like the right path, don't be afraid to admit that and change course.
A lot of us don't change course because we're embarrassed by what others may think. Surely they'll judge us and go: 'Wow, she dropped out of college, what a loser' or 'I knew she wouldn't be able to do it'.
But remember: The only one you have to answer to is yourself, you don't have to justify your decisions to anyone else. Your life, your decisions. And under no circumstances, never ever stay on a path that's not right simply out of fear of judgment.
On that note, I wish you the happiest 2020. I hope you follow your gut and leave the opinions of others behind you.
I know this can be tough, so if you don't wanna go this journey alone and are looking for likeminded women to encourage and support you, join The Wednesday Project!