Why I don't make New Year's resolutions

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I’ve made New Year’s resolutions in the past. Usually they were associated with h̶e̶a̶l̶t̶h̶ being skinny. Any of these sound familiar?

I will lose 10 pounds.

I will go to the gym every day.

I will go to the gym twice each day.

I will only eat X calories per day.

I will quit eating sugar.

I’m not saying goals are bad.

Goals are great. And I understand that in fitness (and everything else), it’s generally good to have SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused and Time-bound). But because of my history with addiction, I struggle with the Achievable portion. I can easily set an unrealistic goal and one of two things happens:

  1. I kill myself to achieve, and the goal consumes me.
  2. I fail, and then spiral down a tunnel of self-hate.

Neither of those situations is positive or healthy. Which is why I don’t make New Year’s resolutions.

Does that mean I don’t have goals?

No. I have goals. But I keep them kind of general and not SMART. I know, some go-getters out there are shaking their heads in disgust. But I know me, and I know how destructive I can be, so I choose to avoid black and white goals.

Right now I have one big health goal: Build strength. I don’t have a body fat percentage I’m working toward or a weight I’m trying to squat. I’m building strength so arm balances and handstands will be more accessible to me and I can have fun with more poses on my mat.

But how will I know if I succeeded?

Well, there’s not really a finish line. I strongly believe that life is best lived in the present, and that means that it’s all about the journey. So I’m on a constant journey, there is no end. No finish line. And I like it that way. 

I do have some intentions for 2015, though they started on December 21, not January 1.

If you follow me on Facebook, you might have seen my post about the solstice ritual I did with my sister. (It was totally rad, and I highly recommend it. You don’t have to sage if you aren’t into hippie stuff.) During this ritual, we wrote down all the thoughts/people/experiences from the past year that no longer served us. Then we burned them. Like, really. They went up in flames. We released them, both physically and emotionally. I forgave people who hurt me, and I forgave myself for hurting others. I had an emotional year, and it felt good to let go of the weight I was carrying.

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Next we wrote out some intentions for life moving forward. After identifying some themes in my “issues” from the past year, I set the following intentions:

  • I accept and share all of who I am.
  • I project who I am, what I feel and what I value with the outer world — particularly those closest to me.
  • I give my voice substance and volume so that everyone — including myself — can hear.
  • I open my heart to others to give and receive love.

So you could say I have a few “New Year’s resolutions,” but they’re not really tied to the new year … and they aren’t really resolutions. The word "resolution" has too much pressure tied to it for me. They’re intentions — things I’m staying mindful of each day. In fact, I have them written on a piece of paper by my bed so I’ll revisit them first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I’m not working toward a finish line, because I don’t ever want to be “finished” with these things. The idea is to make these intentions the norm; permanent.

Here’s a lovely graph I drew to illustrate the difference, at least for me personally, in a goal/resolution versus an intention.

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My life used to be like that first graph.

And the roller-coaster lifestyle just doesn’t work for me. 

I’ve moved on from life in the first graph, but my life isn’t exactly like the second graph, either.

There are hiccups along the way. Because I’m human. But my arrow is mostly always pointed in the right direction, and I feel good about where I am. I’m excited to see where my arrow goes in 2015 and have faith that I will be a better person in 2016 than I was in 2015 … but I’m not waiting. I have faith that I’ll be a better person in February than I will be in January. 

Let’s do this. Now, not on January 1.


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