By Erika Taylor
Spoiler alert! Eighty percent of New Year’s resolutions are broken by February.
We come off of the holiday season full of motivation. We firmly, passionately resolve to swap eggnog for lemon water, stem Black Friday-inspired overspending for strict budgeting, and recommit to the gym we sign up for every January. But these grandiose plans dissolve to the lure of snooze buttons and Super Bowl nachos.
Why does this happen to so many of us?
One component of the answer is that many resolutions are responses to something in ourselves that we think is broken. Something messed up or shameful. “Resolving” refers to fixing a problem. And while we certainly do spend a large chunk of time in our lives solving problems, we never fully finish. We are in a continual process of growing healthier and stronger or becoming weaker and more fragile. Cyclically and enduringly.
If we look at this as a constant set of problems then we must constantly re-solve them. It’s exhausting and sets us up to fail. Once-per-year resolutions almost always: focus on outcomes; ask too much, too fast; lack accountability; and don’t remind us why we started.
This is not a powerful way to inspire. What does inspire is looking at our lives and finding what is working. Taking the lessons we have learned over the course of our lives, the things that have been pivotal in making us the humans we ARE, and using them as a framework for growth.
What works is honoring our deeply rooted drive to evolve. To evolve means to change or develop slowly, often into a better or more advanced state. Evolution is never-ending. It is sustainable. It is steeped in the natural ebb and flow of our lives and allows us to create a wellness practice that supports us, forgives us and can grow with us. A wellness program steeped in the power of evolution is almost certain to get the results we are after. Here’s how to design one:
Be specific. “I want to be healthier,” becomes, “I want to lower my blood pressure.” Pick something measurable. If you want to run, know how far you can run now, pick a distance you think would serve you and make that your goal. And if you hate running, pick something else.
Focus on behaviors
Once you know your goal, list the behaviors that will get you there. Again, be specific. “I will eat three servings of vegetables daily.” Or, schedule three 20-minute walks this week. Start with TODAY. Focus on what you CAN do instead of what you think you need to stop doing. What can you do today that will move you closer to your goal? Finding your walking shoes and putting them by your bed may be a great place to start.
Take baby steps
Choose one of the behaviors you’ve identified and scale it down to a micro-habit. Exercise, for example. Start with a cue that will remind you to do your behavior. Something you already do every day, like getting out of bed. Add the habit. “When I get out of bed in the morning I will do one deep squat.” You do NOT need a 30-minute workout to get the fitness habit going. Drinking more water can start with one big glass first thing in the morning. Decluttering your house might start with banishing one non-useful paper from your desk to the bin after lunch each day.
Find a crew
A friend, coworker or family member makes a wonderful accountability buddy. Evolving may seem tedious or daunting alone. Meeting goals with a friend makes it more enticing. If you know someone is expecting you to bring roasted cauliflower and chickpeas for lunch, you are not as likely to settle for a less nutritionally powerful option. Knowing someone is waiting at the park to walk with you makes it infinitely more likely you will show up at the park.
Define your ‘why’
Ask yourself, “Why did I choose these goals?” To look better? Do more? To own a bigger house? There is no wrong answer. The key is, keep questioning to the root. Want to lose weight to feel better? Ask why that is important. What do you miss when you are not well? These answers will get you to your deeper “why.” Find it, write it down and put it somewhere you will see it every day. This is your beacon.
Resolutions may be a fun part of your tradition. And if they don’t send you into a shame spiral come February, hurray! But if you are more like the 80%, choose one simple behavior, practice it daily, keep it small, share it with your crew, remind yourself why you chose it and let’s EVOLVE through the new year and beyond.
Wishing you wellness in 2024 and always,
Erika Taylor is a community wellness instigator at Taylored Fitness, the original online wellness mentoring system. Taylored Fitness believes that everyone can discover small changes in order to make themselves and their communities more vibrant, and that it is only possible to do our best work in the world if we make a daily commitment to our health. Visit facebook.com/erika.taylor.303 or email email@example.com.