Updated: Jun 22, 2019
The packages have all been torn open.
The credit card bills have yet to arrive.
And the season of gorging that starts from the Halloween candy, to the literal stuffing of self at Thanksgiving, then on to the non-stop feasts in December, that ends with the appetizer extravaganza of bowl games and New Year’s celebrations have come to a screeching halt.
The calendar now says January 2 and haze of the holiday season has left you fatter, poorer, and with things you’ll have to sell at that summer garage sale in July.
You’re back in the land of routine life and are now contemplating the year ahead.
“I think I will use that gym membership I bought last year by getting my butt there three times a week. THIS year will be THE year to get this 15 pounds off.”
“I resolve to eliminate ALL crap food out of my diet and eat only healthy things.”
“I have GOT to stop spending money on useless things – it’s time to start adulting (sigh) and save at least 10% of my income.”
And so on…
Sound familiar? Most of us have these similar pronouncements ringing in our minds when the calendar flips over to the new year. We resolve, commit, and swear that THIS year will be different.
It WILL be different. Honest it will.
Then…life happens. And it’s now January 15 and you’ve yet to hit the gym more than once or twice.
That post-holiday-blues happy hour with work friends? Well, there goes "eat only healthy things”.
Saving like a responsible adult? Yeah, right. That went by the wayside with the post-holiday sales, because after all, you need more stuff, don’t you?
So, why do we so often fail at these annual resolutions? We have all the good intentions, but then most of us are derailed in short order. What is it that causes us to give up so easily?
Honestly, I believe it is the pursuit of perfection. We think that unless we meet the goal in its entirety, then we might as well give it up. If we miss just one chance at staying consistent, we throw in the towel because we humans slipped up. So, why bother, right??
When we don’t hit the gym consistently and see that 15 pounds come off, or we have that first round of nachos, and then in our misery, buy that fourth pair of shoes, we give up. We weren’t perfect in our commitment, so we think, “What’s the point? I’ll never be able to do this anyway.”
For those of you who still feel compelled to make resolutions, I’d like to challenge you to take a different perspective when you do. Rather than state what I call a B-HAG (Big Hairy Assed Goal) that in and of itself creates a potential set-up for failure, think about your intentions/wants versus the actual goals.
For exercise and weight, you might say, “I want to feel physically better. So, I will try to take advantage of little opportunities to increase my activity when given a choice.”
For healthy eating, you could reframe the resolution as, “I really intend improve my health by eating better. When the bag of chips and dip show up, I could see if there is a better option available at that time.”
And for that spending habit? Perhaps the intentional statement is, “When I really really really want to troll Etsy and buy that set of cat butt coasters I’ll never use, maybe I could create a mini-savings program. Every time I buy something useless, I could put a small percentage of that cost into my savings account.”
By using intention statements, you do two things – you give yourself something to strive for, but at the same time, you remove the perfection in the expectation of meeting the goal.
You give yourself a break to live life. You also keep the door open for motivation. Let’s face it – we humans thrive on positive reinforcement and shut down at failure. Therefore, when you set that intention in a realistic, non-perfectionist way, you give yourself the opportunity to be positively reinforced because it’s feasibly something attainable and in a consistent way.
You also have to forgive yourself, human. You make mistakes, you have rough days when the “work” is hard. Again – focus on the intention and not the perfection in meeting that resolution. Every time you revisit that intention, you reinforce the desire to continue in a big-picture, long-term way. And, this approach is more sustainable anyway.
So, as you read this, jog in place, eat your carrot and put a lock on that debit card.
Because, after all, you are resolving to be healthier and have more money in your bank account in 2019, right?
But, if instead you’re sitting like a lump on the coach, reading the blog from your iPad, munching on Flaming Cheetos, and maxing out your Amazon Prime account in another window, well, then, forgive and forget. Because tomorrow is another day to intend to be perfect.
PS – if you see any typos in this blog, my intention was to start writing, and ignore prefection. I would say I’ve met that goal.
And if I have not? Well, join me for the next installment where I resolve to be better right along with you.