You made your resolutions on January 1st. Now it’s January 27th.
Can you…can you feel that? Slight nausea, embarrassment, frustration?
You probably loved your resolutions for a day or two— posted about them on Instagram and Facebook, felt really proud. Your friends responded with those celebration cone thingys or a flexing muscle emoji and you were ALL SO PUMPED.
Perhaps love has been replaced by the feeling of eating a way-too-big burrito. Love has been replaced with resentment and shame [why did I ever show my gym membership to the world?]. Love has been replaced with Netflix. Or, maybe you’re sticking to your resolutions, but love has been replaced with bitterness and exhaustion.
You aren’t alone. And, it’s not too late.
I have a very idealistic personality (INFP, for you Myers-Briggs fans) — my personality affords me significant advantages and disadvantages (blah, blah, blah). This is the case with every single personality type and it can be extremely helpful to understand yours. I encourage you to take this free personality test to gain some practical insight into potential strengths and weaknesses of your personality: https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test.
Okay, so maybe you lean towards being an idealist or perfectionist or, I don’t know, an absurdist—in any case, it’s normal to struggle hard the first days and weeks after January 1st.
And every other day we put our lofty resolutions to paper.
Maybe you don’t even make goals or resolutions anymore because you’ve learned the hard way that they’re sirens of perfectionism and will push you underwater until you slowly suffocate, die, and are given CPR because you are not, alas, a mermaid.
You will return to your average life with weaker lungs and a fear of water.
Sure, maybe not. But, maybe— and if so, I’m with you.
Let’s breathe some life into these resolutions!
1- Make your Resolution(s) Exciting Again
Editing is not failure— editing is progress.
So, you wrote a rough draft during the end of December. January was your first read through.
What isn’t working? What is holding you back?
What do you actually want?
Maybe you are exhausted and need to sleep more.
Maybe you need to say “no” to a few things.
Maybe your first draft only made you anxious and sick to your stomach— maybe you need to start afresh. If you do, it’s okay. It’s a step forward, not backward.
If you aren’t excited about your resolution, but still want to stick with it, maybe try re-framing your resolution in positive terms. Instead of thinking about how you absolutely can’t eat junk food anymore, think about all the delicious healthy recipes you want to try. Try to focus on the fantastic things you are going to do rather than what you aren’t going to do.
If your resolution seems overwhelming or daunting, you could break it down into smaller steps. Your resolution might be “write a book” or “create an online store.” Those are great goals and you don’t need to get rid of them, but maybe focus on what you can do each day to move towards that goal.
Make that resolution of yours exciting and attainable!
2- Plan in a tasty way
Create a plan that makes you feel inspired, not burdened.
Activity—> Reward—> Rest
Activities include the actions that are needed for you to see your resolution through. For example, if you want to write a book your activities might include writing, editing, reading, and seeking feedback. If you want to eat healthier food, your activities might be research, meal planning, shopping, and cooking. You get the idea.
It’s easy to ENTIRELY focus on the activities portion of planning…but spending your days moving from one “productive” activity to another without a reprieve will result in burnout. Make your schedule tasty! I’m a believer in positive conditioning and in giving yourself wonderful things to look forward to (big or small). I also know that rest is a necessity. We need to rest every single day and we need longer periods of rest. If you aren’t sure how to plan rewards and rest, I have lots of ideas to get you started here: Rewards and Rest
Okay, so now that you have your activities, rewards, and times of rest in mind, how do you make the actual schedule? I’ve made MANY an unrealistic schedule…it can be pretty defeating.
Many of my schedules have been unrealistic because they don’t work with my body clock, which results in quickly becoming burnt out and frustrated.
Lots of books exist about chronobiology (the science of natural body rhythms). IT’S REAL. Even five minutes of research about you chronotype (your natural body rhythm) can be helpful. This simple quiz from Dr. Oz’s website could be a good place to start: http://www.doctoroz.com/quiz/quiz-what-your-chronotype
Whenever people are put into broad categories, many will not completely fit into one category. It is important to observe how your brain and body feel at different times of the day and with different amounts of sleep and be willing to adjust!
Once you’ve made that lovely plan of yours, remember…
flexibility is not failure.
Life is unpredictable. If things happen beyond your control and you are no longer able to get in that long-run— IT IS OKAY. Let it go, accept it as an unanticipated break, adjust your schedule to get in that run over the next few days. Don’t be a total boohiss towards others because your schedule is “ruined.” It’s not ruined, it’s been adjusted.
It’s also okay to adjust even if you “could” stick to your schedule. If you are behind on something important or flat-out exhausted or sick or staying with other people, remember this phrase and chant it to yourself when needed— something is better than nothing.
I repeat, something is better than nothing.
It’s a cliché because it’s really, really true.
I’ve given myself the freedom to say, “I don’t know if I can do yoga for an hour, but I can do it for 20 minutes” or “I don’t know if I can stay focused enough to write for an hour, but I can write for 20 minutes.”
This has been a goal-saver.
As you might guess, sometimes 20 minutes stretches to an hour. Other times, I stop at 20 minutes. And, that’s okay. It’s way better than doing nothing. I’m moving forward.
Give yourself some grace.
3- Team up with someone who makes you feel like a dream-come-true
THIS ONE. This is the one.
Truly, though— I think this can make the biggest difference long-term.
This person does NOT need to have the same resolutions as you (though that would be pretty spectacular), but they do need to be, without a doubt, on your team. 100% for you. Try to pick someone who makes you feel valuable and strong.
Tell someone who loves you about your goals, your plans, your dreams…and your weakness and struggles. Give them permission to ask you questions and remind you of your intentions when you started. Give them permission to lift you up.
Purge the junk— fill up on love
Okay, so resolutions can come from a lot of places. Some pretty dark places, actually. Normally we begin this kind of journey with a lot of hope, but sometimes we carry other things with us, too. We can do great things motivated by shame, fear, false-guilt, and vanity.
These motivations may lead you to accomplish your goal or stick to your schedule— but, they’ll make you feel pretty crappy, too. If you are motivated by shame or fear, you aren’t able to fully enjoy what you’re doing.
So, what is your deep-down motivation?
You want to healthier? Why?
You want to write more? Why?
You want to give more? Why?
Here’s the thing— your resolutions can be fueled by the black hole of “not enough”….or, they can be fueled by love for God.
Yes, even your diet.
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
-1 Corinthians 10:31
Shame, guilt, fear, and vanity are all about me.
And guess what? I will never be enough on my own.
But I am enough in my God— and anything done in response to His great love for me is of eternal value.
I find this passage from Hebrews 12 so encouraging:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
How do you struggle in the area of resolutions?
What helps you stay on track?
I would love to hear from you!