After a whirlwind of a year in 2019, I’m excited and hopeful for what 2020 and the new decade will have in store. I love the feeling of having a fresh start, of closing one chapter and starting another, and of observing how my hopes and dreams change and get bigger over the years. So, it may surprise you to read that:
I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions.
It’s not because I think I’m too good for them, or because I don’t want to change. I think wanting to be better and improve your life is a wonderful thing, but I don’t think it’s something we should force ourselves into just because it’s January first, and I have a teeny tiny problem with the word resolution.
Instead of resolutions, I make goals. I think this word has a different implication, and it’s those little implications in our language that subtly affect our mindset. To me, the word resolution has two, more subtle, implications that can easily set someone up to fail.
The first is that when you’re resolute about something, there’s no leniency, no room for forgiveness. If you don’t make it 100%, then you might as well give up. I see this mindset in terms of New Year’s resolutions so often. Say someone makes a resolution to go to the gym 5 days a week. The first time they miss a day, they’ve broken their resolution. Then they think, ‘well I’ve already failed, so what’s the point of continuing?’ However, setting a goal to go to the gym five days a week sets us up for a more positive experience. A goal is something to strive for, something you can work your way up to. If you set a goal to hit the gym five days a week but get sick and only make it four, it doesn’t feel so dire. It’s easier to focus on the fact that you still worked out four days of the week! You can get back up to five next week, when you feel better.
The second implication of the word resolution to be aware of is that your current life is a problem that needs to be resolved. Of course, we all have problems. But this kind of thinking puts so much pressure on us to “fix ourselves” that it makes us forget all the progress we’ve made to get to where we are now. We forget all the work we’ve already put in, and most importantly, we forget about the things we’re already good at! New Year’s Resolutions can be dangerous territory because they keep us focused on what we want to change about ourselves, but leave us blindsided to our amazing qualities that already exist. Goals, on the other hand, build up, with each one being made out of the work that was put into the one before it. They make it pretty hard to forget the work that was done to achieve the previous goal, and I think that’s beautiful.
Going into 2020, I challenge you to change up your new year’s resolutions and turn them into your goals for the year. This way, you can shift the focus from your perceived shortcomings, to improving upon and adding to the great qualities you already have. You can have more flexibility, and can adapt and shift your goals to change when you do. What’s even better, you can make a new goal, or a new set of goals, any time of the year, January first included.
Cheers to 2020 and to the new goals, mindsets, and growth the year will bring us!
Want to read more from Sarah? Check out her other articles here!