A New Look at New Year’s Resolutions

The new year is traditionally a time when we look at ways to improve some area of our lives (or ourselves) that we feel is lacking. Some people eagerly look forward to this time of year, setting goals, tracking progress, and adjusting outcomes if needed. Others–myself included–view New Year’s Resolutions as something they are required to do. I end up setting poor goals, lacking follow-through, and then do not meet my objectives. This feeling of failure stays with me the whole year. I end up “shoulding” myself: I should lose weight, I should exercise more, I should stop spending so much money. The end result is a poor self-image and feelings of guilt. Then, at some point in the year, I start making plans for next year: Next year I will (fill in with an unrealistic expectation), only to be met with disappointment yet again. For me, and perhaps for many of you, the desire to change and transform some aspect of life does not only come at the start of a new calendar year, which makes New Year’s Resolutions so ill-suited to enacting real change.

So what is one to do with this conundrum? How do you enact change and set goals for yourself while being realistic about your expectations? When is the best time to set “resolutions?”

First, if New Year’s resolutions typically work for you, stick with doing them! As the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” If you are someone who can create resolutions each new year and see them through, I applaud you and encourage you to keep doing what you’re doing. However, for those of us who find New Year’s resolutions challenging or even stressful, there are a few things we can do to welcome transformation into our lives without feeling the pressure and eventual disappointment.

First and foremost: you need to manage your expectations. Setting a goal to lose 50 pounds may sound wonderful, but how likely is it to happen? It would probably require major diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes that you may not yet be ready for–or at least not ready to do all at once. Instead, setting smaller, more manageable, and realistic goals can help keep you on track and give you milestones to celebrate and encourage yourself along the way.

Here’s an example: I have five goals that I am currently working on:

1. buy used whenever possible
2. recycle more
3. eat fewer eggs
4. work out twice a week
5. eat three whole fruits/vegetables per day

In the next six weeks or so, I plan on reevaluating these goals. If I’m making progress, I will maintain my goals or maybe make them more challenging. However, if I am struggling, I will adjust a goal so it’s more manageable. This is not cheating! Adjusting your goals gives you the opportunity to still enact meaningful change while experiencing success.

Next, limit the number of goals you make at one time. You don’t have to change every aspect of your life! Choose two or three things that you really want to transform. Then, if you are able to meet those goals, you can set more. As with just about everything, moderation is key. You can always drop goals that you have reached, or trade them for new goals if you like.

Finally, leave yourself open to the ability to set resolutions for yourself at any time of the year, not just January 1. The beginning of a new year can be a natural starting point; however, I also challenge you to pay attention to your needs throughout the year. If you start feeling like you need to work out more in March, set a short-term goal for yourself. Perhaps when June rolls around you feel the need to get more in touch with your intuitive side; the perfect time to set another goal.

I want to thank you for setting the goal of self-care and for being a part of my Ananda Citta family. If I can help you think through or set up your manageable goals for the year ahead, please let me know. Perhaps a Goal Setting Tarot Reading may give you the inspiration and focus to get started. I look forward to discovering what the Universe has in store for all of us in 2022!

Namaste,

Michelle Boening