I have a love/hate relationship with New Year’s resolutions. Sometimes I set them, follow through on them and end up feeling pretty darn good – like the year I declared that I would run 3 miles (may not sound like much, but at the time I couldn’t even run one tenth of a mile). Other times, I set really aggressive goals that I’m amped about at first but eventually drain me of my energy and leave me feeling like a failure (like the year I decided to train for a marathon).
I’ve done a lot of thinking about the New Year’s resolutions and I think I’ve uncovered why they generally tend to drive me mad: I never truly make “resolutions” but rather set goals. Lose 10 lbs., save a thousand dollars, learn a foreign language…these are goals not resolutions. What’s the difference? Well, goals generally have an end (you achieve a goal and then you’re done) while resolutions are continuous, on-going, never-ending.
For example, rather than saying that you’re going to lose 10 pounds in the new year, resolve to eat more fruits and vegetables, less fatty foods, and make it to the gym at least 3 times per week. By resolving to maintain a healthier lifestyle everyday, indefinitely, you’ll not only lose those ten pounds, you’ll keep them off.
By making true resolutions, you’ll save yourself from “resolution fatigue” (yep, just coined that term right now), which is that sense of frustration that settles in when your goals are taking longer than expected to achieve. “With resolutions, the expectations are different,” says Gretchin Rubin, author of The Happiness Project. “Each day, I try to live up to my resolutions. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail, but every day is a clean slate and a fresh opportunity. I never expect to be done with my resolutions, so I don’t get discouraged when they stay challenging. Which they do.”
All of this is not to say that you shouldn’t have goals too, just make sure you’re setting the right goals and the right resolutions.
I’ll be thinking about my resolutions over the next fews days and will be ready to share them with you in the new year. Stay tuned.