Resolutions? How’s That Working?
About the third week of January, I start noticing that it’s, once again, not so difficult to get a treadmill or a good spot in a yoga class at my gym. Then, with mixed feelings, I remember how crowded it was the first week of the year. Every year. Sure, I’m happy to get my Zumba spot back & not have to wait in line for weights; but I know that all over town, people are giving up on their good intentions to get healthy this year, and they are promising themselves to start “tomorrow,” which makes me feel a little sad.
When I look at it on a broader scale, I can get a lot sadder. Sometimes it feels like our whole country is losing the battle for our good health. Fortunately, I know of some real people, friends & family members, who have turned their lives around. But I don’t think New Year’s resolutions have played much of a part in that.
I once heard, “We overestimate what we can do in a year, & we underestimate what we can do in 5 years.” Looking back, I saw that this was indeed the case for me. Every year, I had wild expectations about how this year would be so productive, so different, so…blah blah blah. By the end of the year, in fact usually by the end of January, I could see how unrealistic my “goals” were.
But when I looked back 5 years, that gave me a whole different perspective. True, I had not been able to paint 10 new paintings that first year; but I had done close to 50 in 5 years! I had not, in fact, cut out all sugar & processed foods, but my diet was much better overall.
A few people seem to be genuinely motivated by making resolutions. But most of us are not. I think what helps me is to be general, then specific. I set an intention like “I will work on flexibility this year.” It may take some time to arrive at this intention. Maybe I notice that my muscles seem tight, or that there’s a pose I’d like to learn in yoga. I ruminate on things, and eventually realize that it’s something I want to formally declare to myself, even if it’s not New Year’s Day.
Then, to be more specific, I’ll set little goals for myself. “I’ll do these 2 stretches every night just before I crawl into bed/as I get out of the shower (whenever).” I attach a marker: “I want to be able to do this pose by summertime,” or “I will be able to touch my nose to my knee as I do this stretch by the end of the year.”
It’s helpful to write this stuff down. If you’re not the writing sort of person, consider making an agreement with a friend. Send a quick e-mail to her with your goals, & ask if she’ll ask you how it’s going every month or so. Or, e-mail yourself.
Remember that the idea behind all of this is to make progress is the general direction of your actual goals. Be flexible. If you see that your original marker is impossibly out of reach or too easy, you can amend it! (No one has to know.) You may also want to consider hiring a holistic health coach, like me. All over the country, & in other countries, people like me are helping all kinds of people identify & reach their health goals, so that they can put their energies into the things they really want to do. After all, good health is actually a means to an end. It is a resource to help you live the life you were meant to live.