I am excited to be back now that the storm and stress of the holidays are over. I hope y’all had a happy holiday and I wish you the happiest of New Year’s which, incidentally, brings me to today’s topic: New Year’s resolutions. The featured picture above is from January 2nd, 2015. My New Year’s resolution that year was to get washboard abs and touch the backboard at the basketball court. In those days; Cody was dreaming big, but he also characterized all of the wrong things to do when setting goals for himself and below is where I’ll tell you why.
I can see it now; all the bold proclamations of 2019 being filled with more happiness, more money, better relationships, and a better handle on life, because aren’t all of us just sick of 2018? Unfortunately, come February, I will start seeing memes lamenting 2019 and all its pitfalls, partly due to the unrelenting political and societal tornadoes that will inevitably rage on, despite our efforts to be optimistic. When it comes to pass, the downfall of the coming year will be personal, but it won’t happen right away. New Year’s resolutions have a sneaky way of slowly fading as our initial wave of grit and determination for change is engulfed by an even stronger wave of the realities, expectations, and doubts that slowly chip away at the framework of our ambition for the concept of the “new year, new me” idea. Luckily, I am here to help! Not because I have any clinical expertise that is going to make or break your New Year’s resolution, but because I am much better at being accountable to myself and others when I am able to deconstruct the reasons why I, as well as all of you, have failed in the past. So, without further ado, let’s get it!
Don’t: Don’t create a resolution based on what someone else (or society) is telling you to change. You must really think hard about this because many of you have probably stopped to ask yourself if the 15 pounds you plan on losing is for you or for those in your life who have made you believe that those 15 pounds have contributed to a lesser sense of self-worth, attractiveness, or ability. When we put our value in the hands of those who judge us, we have lost the ability to be self-compassionate.
Do: If 2019 is the year for physical, mental, or emotional transformations, make sure that the values that drive this journey begin and end with you and nobody else. This way, you can celebrate each step, reward small victories, and appreciate the challenges. The external rewards will only come if we live in appreciation and compassion, rather than comparison and criticism.
Don’t: Don’t create a resolution that is too vague. We have all fallen victim to this. I made a resolution once that I was going to do 200 push-ups a day (yes, I was trying to impress a girl). Anyways, I lasted about 2 weeks and then I forgot why I was even doing the push-ups. The action was specific, but the actual goal was undefinable. When we idealize a result, we often overlook how hard the process may be and that leads to gaps in what we want, and what it is we need to do to achieve what we want. I hope people aren’t mad that I am dampening their dreams for a transformative 2019; in-fact, I would encourage the creation of bold resolutions as long as there is an action plan that follows (we will get to that part!).
Don’t: Don’t set a resolution without a realistic plan of achievement. Now, I don’t blame anyone for not having a realistic plan. How are we supposed to know what sorts of twists and turns a new year may have in store for us? This is where I tell people to dream big but plan conservatively. We are destined to be discouraged along the way and our biggest weapon is our ability to plan for the hiccups, rather than succumb to the setbacks. I am unfortunately learning this the hard way as I have begun to tackle my New Year’s resolution early. Long story short, I was exceedingly optimistic about a new workout/lifestyle regimen that I had begun. I planned this new lifestyle in conjunction with my busy schedule, tracked my progress in a compassionate way, and reflected each day on my motivations in starting this new endeavor. Unfortunately, life happens, and it happened to me yesterday as I seemed to have pulled a muscle in my chest while working out. To paint you a picture, it’s as if my left boob is an A cup and the other is a solid C cup.
Do: Alas, my plan of achievement has not ended with this setback, rather it has given me the chance to reflect on the limits to which I can push my body. My point is, for resolutions to stick we must always find the ability to adapt appropriately, rather than dwell on the circumstances as they stand. I could have given up, and trust me, I have given up plenty of times before. I didn’t give up this time because, for the first time in my life, I have created a resolution that stands true to my values, my intrinsic motivation, and what I feel I deserve.
My Biggest Takeaway: Make it personal. I have the unique pleasure of sitting down with people who so desperately want their lives to change but are unable to access the motivation to take action until the clock strikes midnight into a New Year. In honor of full transparency, I hate New Year’s resolutions precisely because they enable excuses and reinforce doubt. There is no magic to a change in the calendar. In my work with clients, we explore from day one where the barriers are to change and, more often than not, we find the inner saboteur! Some of my former clients, mentees, and students will read this and laugh because in my work, I don’t often sympathize with excuses, although I will empathize with feelings of stagnation, and overall dissatisfaction. I’ve been described as a cheerleader, a weird motivator, and an annoying mentor. Do these descriptions accurately describe my style? Probably. But, with that said, I want my clients, my friends, and my colleagues to know that I will work as hard as I can to help create the life that they wish to actualize. All I ask is that they work just as hard as I do in helping them attain their goals.
Finally, I am not immune to lapses in motivation, “falling off the wagon”, or slipping in my personal and professional goals. I crave accountability much like most of you do through trainers, coaches, and friendships alike. My hope for you is that you access the support you need to help achieve your goals. In therapy and through my new life coaching endeavor, I’ve found that my best asset to those I serve is my ability to provide mutual support in times of self-doubt and to reaffirm the values, intrinsic motivators, and the potential of my clients to remind them of how far they’ve come in their journey towards their best selves. We are programmed for resilience, overcoming obstacles, and persevering through life’s challenges. The roadblocks we create are a product of our thoughts, and my greatest pleasure in this work is to remind people of their worth and ambition, rather than leave them alone with their doubt and their judgment.
Thank you for reading! If you connect with my writing and you are curious about the work I do with clients in my life-coaching world, you are more than welcome to set up a free phone/skype consult with me by emailing at email@example.com
Finally, a huge thank you to Vanessa Moses who has been with me since day one and is doing fantastic work in freelance writing and editing here: https://www.upwork.com/o/profiles/users/_~011e6d3a26b57a6a2b/