It’s the same thing every year–eat better, exercise, stick to a budget, quit smoking, purge your closet. New Year’s resolutions are easily made with good intentions, but if it’s not something meaningful there will never be sustainable, significant change. The tradition is meant to encourage people to consider what they’d like to bring into their lives, how they’d like a chance to start over, or what bad habits they want to kick, but let’s be real: overhauling your day to day life is basically impossible without starting small.
But it always essential to keep challenging yourself and to bring good things into your life. So why not set yourself up with a new outlook and goals you can–and will want–to stick to? Let’s look at some of the most common resolutions and how you can achieve the spirit of them without losing steam by summer.
Resolution: To lose weight
Start by asking yourself what exactly is wrong with your body. Diet culture is insidious and the pressure to comply with nebulous beauty standards should be examined. If you have your own well-defined, body positive reasons for wanting to focus on your physical health, that’s fantastic–but don’t approach health and weight loss as one in the same. Instead, think about how you want to feel.
Do you want to be more relaxed? Make a resolution to do yoga one time per week, more if you feel like it, but at least once. Think about what else relaxes you–taking walks? Cooking dinner? Incorporate your mental and emotional health when outlining a wellness plan, and don’t fixate on what you perceive to be “wrong” with you.
Do you want to eat healthy? Consider what healthy really is. Healthy isn’t starving yourself, or compromising your emotional well-being, or shaming yourself into a restrictive diet. Healthy is embracing food as nourishment, as something to enjoy. Healthy is making food choices that align with your personal goals, not beating yourself up. Nourish your body, nourish your soul. Make a resolution to cook at home more often, or to take cooking lessons, or have a monthly potluck where you and friends swap recipes. Join a community garden and build a stronger relationship to what you’re eating. Try not to focus on what you “can’t” have, but instead on what meals leave you feeling satisfied and whole.
Do you want to feel better in your clothes? Assess what you’re wearing. Your body isn’t the problem, but maybe you should figure out what you feel best in and make more of an effort to wear that. Make a resolution to see a personal shopper (many department stores offer the service for free) and let them help you find what makes you feel incredible. Make a resolution once per month to get dressed up in your most confidence-boosting outfit and take a photo. Keep track of your style evolving and recognize how well you’re getting to know yourself.
Resolution: Purge your closet/be neater
This is a hard one, and it’s really about building daily habits that support your long term goals. It’s a myth that people “should” be tidy–how should you? What if you were never taught how to properly clean? It’s not like we are born with those skills. So do an assessment: what areas of your home are causing you stress? And what would solve it? Do you need more storage space, or perhaps to reorganize furniture to allow less clutter to gather?
Make a resolution to take stock of your habits. Building awareness is key to changing behaviors, and if you don’t know how you’re making messes, how will you ever understand how to prevent it? Set a plan for yourself to observe your morning and evening routines. Perhaps what you really need to do is wake up ten minutes earlier so you aren’t rushing around like a cyclone, leaving a huge mess for yourself in the evening. Start a list of where the pitfalls are, and come up with solutions to try and mend them.
Embrace the “one in, one out” mentality. Each time you buy a new item of clothing, donate something. That way you aren’t building up an excess of items you don’t use. That’s a simple resolution that’s easy to keep, and by donating your unworn items you’re helping someone else out, too.
Try setting aside just 20 minutes a day for housework. You’d be surprised how much you can get done. For example, in 20 minutes you can likely wash your breakfast dishes, pack a lunch for the next day, wipe down your counter tops and sweep or vacuum at least one room. This will prevent the dreaded feeling of having to do a major house cleaning and gets you in the habit of spending intentional, focused time each day on your goal.
No matter what you decide to take as your New Year’s resolution, spend some time asking yourself what you really want to accomplish and if you’re going about it in a sane way. Remember: this is for you, so do it in a way that leaves you feel happy, healthy, and excited about your awesome new year.