Why I Am Throwing Traditional New Year's Resolutions Out The Window (And How To Make Positive, Life-Long Change)
New Year's. The time we get brand new calendars, set brand new goals, and start over with a clean slate. A slate that generally stays clean for maybe a few days or a few weeks, until it is tarnished with a glass of wine here and a cookie there. And then the grandiose resolutions we were so committed to on January 2nd are quickly forgotten, and we fall back into our regular routines and habits, and we vow to try again next Monday, and then the following Monday and the following, and ultimately enough Mondays pass that we decide to wait until next New Year's to change all of our bad habits in one fell swoop. Which, of course, dooms us to failure from the start. Again.
Throughout the years, I, too, have succombed to this circular pattern. Historically, I spend hours, days and even weeks pondering all of bad habits I want to change and the good habits I want to incorporate into my life. The list is very thoughtful and comprehensive, detailing commitments in all facets of life - fitness, nutrition, finances, spirituality, personal development, relationships, household, etc., etc. And if I am being honest (and this blog is all about honesty and authenticity), I may get through a week sticking with perhaps 1 or 2 of my 10+ resolutions before I fall off the wagon (and decide to try again next Monday...).
This year, my resolution prep was no different. I even invested in a few, quite lovely (and actually very useful and highly recommended) workbooks from Leonie Dawson that help guide you to your yearly personal and professional goals, and I spent precious hours over the Christmas holiday analyzing the current state of my life and creating a long list of things I resolved to do or not do in 2017. Save a certain amount of money. Start a nutrition and kettlebell coaching business, in-person and online, attracting a certain number of clients and making a certain amount of money each month. Read at least 2 books a month. Declutter our entire house. Find a new church community close to where we live. Cook through all of the recipes in my friend Tess Challis' Radiant Health, Inner Wealth cookbook (I still plan on doing this...more in an upcoming blog). Obtain my RKC kettlebell instructor certification. Cure cancer. Bring peace to the Middle East...
But when I returned from my holiday visit to my hometown, I had what Oprah would call an ah-ha moment that would support my desire to constantly improve and become a better person but get me out of the vicious New Year's Resolution circle. As I contemplated the type of person I wanted to be in 2017 and reflected on the type of person I became in 2016, when I ventured into motherhood for the very first time, I remembered an article I once read by a renowned Stanford University professor and expert in human behavior change named BJ Fogg, whose research has found that long-term behavior change is only truly possible by taking itsy-bitsy, teeny-tiny baby steps consistently over time. I then looked at my lovely, 6 1/2-month old daughter, the Beautiful Baby A (BBA), and realized that the only resolution that seemed worthwhile for me to make in the upcoming year is to strive every day to be a little better and to do a little better for her, so that I am consistently striving to become the type of person that I would like my lovely, 6 1/2-month old daughter to be.
This is, of course, probably the tallest order when it comes to New Year's Resolutions I have ever made, but since BBA is learning everything about life right now from me (and her dada), there could be no commitment more important, more impactful or more meaningful.
Ultimately, I do not want my daughter becoming a victim of the New Year's Resolution monster. I do not want her getting trapped in the all-or-nothing, perfectionist-or-bust perspective on life. I do not want her spending her Sundays every week telling herself she'll start being the person she wants to be tomorrow. I do not want her Decembers to be spent binge watching trash TV on the couch while she stuffs her face with sweets and holiday cocktails (obviously, after she turns 21...) in anticipation of starting over in January by drinking only green smoothies and working out twice a day. This rollercoaster is not only frustrating and demoralizing, but it causes us to spend our lives knee deep in our imperfections, flaws and failures, rather than focusing on all of unique and wonderful traits that makes us the special and beautiful human beings we all are.
So this year I challenge you to think about your New Year's Resolutions a little differently. To look at the areas of your life you'd most like to improve and to commit to doing just a tiny bit better or a tiny bit more today. That may mean having a few more sips of water today than you did yesterday. Or donating $1 to your favorite charity rather than $0. Or getting up 1 minute earlier. Or going for a 5-minute walk. To support this process and keep myself accountable, I will be posting The Resolution Daily every day on my Facebook page (are you following me on FB, and if not, why not?), providing daily advice and tips on how to make consistent and tiny improvements and ditch the transform-every-aspect-of-your-life-overnight New Year's Resolution mentality once and for all.
WDIWMDTB. Who Do I Want My Daughter To Become. That is my mantra for 2017. And whether you have children or not, I challenge you to think about this mantra as you move forward with your life each and every day this year, and resolve to take just one, baby step closer to becoming that person yourself. What tiny step are you going to take today? Leave a Comment below and share.
Until next time, be happy and healthy,
Hello, friends! I’m Kathleen, the Kettlebell Mama. Welcome to bells & peppers – a blog dedicated to all things related to fitness, nutrition and healthy living. As an athlete, trainer, nutritionist, cooking instructor, attorney, senior executive and new mom, I have learned how to balance my personal health and fitness goals with paying the bills, spending quality time with family and friends and pursuing a demanding career – without losing my mind! My goal is to inspire, empower and provide you with simple strategies to help you become your healthiest self in a balanced, realistic and sustainable way. Feel free to read more about my story here. Thanks for visiting bells & peppers!