January 2: The gym is so crowded you need to stand in line for half an hour or more to use your cardio machine of choice, or heck, any cardio machine. January 5: You head to the grocery store and it is as if no fruits, vegetables, or protein supplements were ever stocked on their shelves. Fast forward to February 15: The gym has returned to the usual suspects and you can finally buy bananas again!
How many of us make resolutions for the new year? Resolutions often include statements such as lose weight, go to the gym more often/start going to the gym, find a partner/settle down with a partner, quit drinking, quit smoking, quit eating carbs/meat/sweets, etc. I think you get the idea. So, the better question is: How many of us KEEP our resolutions for the new year…for the whole year? I’m guessing the show of hands out there has gone down. Please don’t misunderstand, I am NOT against resolutions. In fact, I’m the opposite. As a mental health clinician, I help people make, re-establish (sometimes over and again), and power through with resolutions all year long. So, where’s the hang up? Often times we set unattainable goals for ourselves. This can occur on so many different levels. If I have never run a day in my life, but decide that I’m going to enter the Little Rock marathon in 2 weeks, I am in for a rough ride. If I’m a healthy size 10 female who decides to wear a size 2 in the next month, I’m just setting myself up for a healthy dose of self-criticism. If I decide I’m going to be a millionaire by Christmas, but I currently have no workable resume or skill set, what job do I plan to apply for to earn that? If I plan to marry the person of my dreams this summer, but I’m not even in a relationship, what do I do with that dress come June?! When we set ourselves up for failure either by not giving ourselves enough time to accomplish a goal, the means/tools to achieve a goal, or setting the bar too high, then we experience issues, such as stress, low self-esteem, poor body image, or irritable mood. So, 3 tips for setting yourself up for success and keeping those “resolutions”:
- Make sure you have the ability to achieve it– you aren’t SuperMan, so unless you own an airplane, don’t decide to fly.
- Give yourself enough time to achieve it–start training for the marathon 6 months out instead of 6 days out.
- Reward yourself for milestones–if you want to lose 25 lbs, reward yourself (dessert, half day at work, pedicure, glass of wine, movie) every 5 or 10 lbs til you reach your goal.
Make those resolutions. Set those goals. But be kind to yourself. Be realistic. Remember that you are human and not every day will be a win. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and give it another go tomorrow. I’m rooting for you. And, if you need someone to listen to, set goals with, or process through a plan, I’d love to listen.