Are you doing those resolutions all wrong?

Sabrina Almeida

Disappointed that it’s not going so well on the resolution front? Don’t be so hard on yourself! Studies show that only about 10% of people actually stick with them by the time the middle of February comes around. I too am among the majority that’s constantly getting on and off the wagon.

Yikes, it’s only around 45 days since we resolved to exercise regularly, eat more nutritious stuff and ditch negativity… or whatever else was on that ‘change my life’ list. If it’s already so hard, what’s going to happen as the months roll along? It almost seems like there’s no point making resolutions after all. Not being able to follow the game plan so early in the year can really drag one down. Who needs to feel more depressed after two years of being locked down by the pandemic, right?

Given the mental stress of coping with major lifestyle changes brought on by the coronavirus, one school of thought suggested completely ditching resolutions this year. But I disagree. Resolutions give us something to look forward to. Even if it seems like we’re not hitting the right notes everyday, what’s more important is that we are trying and hope to get better at it.

I gave up on resolutions for a few years… and that was way before the pandemic. But I realized that not setting any goals meant not doing anything at all. True there was nothing to beat myself up about, but I also missed those celebratory moments (however few) when I did make the effort. Actually, I felt worse for not attempting to get in touch with a better version of myself.

Now I’ve concluded that pursuing resolutions offers that all-important ‘me time’ encouraged by mental health experts. Some of us tend to put everyone and everything else first which can be extremely stressful.  Being at home more during the pandemic made no difference in that respect, even though it should have. We worked more because we felt there was nothing else to do.

Here’s where resolutions can make a critical difference to our wellbeing. Exercising for 20 minutes a day, taking a hobby class or meeting a friend (or maybe all of the above) offers the much-needed time to recharge our batteries and free our minds.

In a mentally-stressed world, doing something for oneself provides the opportunity to get in touch with ourselves as well as other things and people that are important to us.

Defaulting on resolutions could mean unrealistic expectations are setting us up for failure. So, it’s worth re-examining that personal to-do list to see where we can give ourselves a break by scaling down a bit or a lot. Let’s look ahead to what can be done rather than be discouraged by what we missed. 

Yes, it’s all about being positive.

Shawn Anchor calls it the “Happiness Advantage”. It is believed that professional and social success will make us happy but according to the best-selling author personal happiness fuels success and not the other way around.

“When we are positive, our brains become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient, and productive,” says Anchor. 

Starting something new, especially a personal routine, comes with its fair share of challenges. A positive attitude is key to sticking with resolutions or restarting them after a pause. Who said we couldn’t have as many do-overs as needed.

Perhaps that should be our number one resolution – to be positive — and everything else will follow. Change is a process, no one said it was going to be easy, especially when it comes to changing habits and behaviours. That’s why a suggestion was made to call them New Year’s ‘evolutions’ rather than ‘resolutions’.

Here’s a little something to motivate us to pursue them – a study showed that those who make New Year’s resolutions are 10 times more likely to make a change than people who don’t make these yearly goals.

That makes me feel better already. 

Let’s make resolutions work for us by giving them the happiness advantage. 

Here’s to 300 or so do-overs left in 2022!!!

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