So we are halfway through January and enough is enough!
I’m disillusioned with New Year’s resolutions already. I can’t take one more TV advert guilt-tripping me into joining a new eye-wateringly expensive gym; one more Facebook feed lamenting the woes of ‘dry January’ or one more Z-list celebrity promoting how to cook healthily or don a leotard and lose pounds just by looking at a dumbbell. It’s all in the name of the age-old tradition of making a “New Year’s resolution”. And while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with aspiring to a healthy, happy, financially secure life (or whatever your type of resolution); the issue is that instead of being a positive thing, these resolutions often just make us self-critical and disappointed when it doesn’t all go to plan.
Why do we do it to ourselves?
I know it’s the start of a new year so on paper it makes sense. But…It’s dark by mid-afternoon. It’s cold/wet/snowy/foggy…you get the gist. It’s the down-time after the festivities, fun and frolics of Christmas and New Year’s Eve. It can be a fairly miserable time of year. So, to my mind, this is NOT the wisest time to self-reflect on our so-called failures of last year, nor our areas for improvement.
How many times have you broken a New Year’s resolution?
I can dig into my own life archives to recall some of my resolution ‘failures’. The year that with grit and determination I committed to ‘dry January’ because it would be healthy and help save my pennies. Only to find myself lonely; missing out on much-needed social company at such a depressing time of year and thus it wasn’t long before I ended up in front of a log fire in a cosy pub with a deep glass of pinot noir (to my mind a much better result!) Or how about the infamous year of 2009 when I signed up my soul to one of those devilish leisure centre chains; nervously tip-toeing into the sweaty and frankly intimidating gym, meekly trying to fathom how on earth the “BodyMax 500 Turbo” worked, before giving up and relaxing in their sauna instead (a much preferred place of bliss).
I know I’m not alone.
The NHS say that only one in ten of us will be successful in sticking to our resolutions. Bupa found that of the people who said they would be setting a New Year’s resolution, half were not confident they would stick to it*. Their research also showed that 80% of those that made resolutions didn’t make it to the end of March before going back to their old ways. Another study compiled by Statistic Brain** showed that only 8% of people who made a New Year’s resolution were able to meet their goal.
So, the exact numbers vary a little between studies but they’re all suggesting that most of us aren’t successful at sticking to our resolutions until the year is out; let alone making them a new life-long habit.
We’re so hard on ourselves when we don’t stick to our resolutions.
It all seems so negative to me. I think we’ve missed an opportunity. I think there’s a better way to embrace the idea of New Year’s resolutions. Let’s move away from what we didn’t achieve and how we think we need to change. And instead we use January as a chance to reflect on the positives that the previous year brought us, new skills we learned, new friendships we made, new ways (big or small) that we found happiness. Perhaps we could make a ‘resolution’ to take these positives forward into the year ahead, so we naturally focus on being happier and healthier people with less of the negative emotional baggage.
With that in mind, here’s my spin on the New Year resolution:
- Keep trying out recipes from that cookbook I bought myself with those birthday vouchers – the first one I tried wasn’t half bad so don’t let the book get dusty – try another.
- Send a batch of photos to Grandma – she really loved the last lot that surprised her in the post and it wasn’t too hard to do once you got to grips with that new-fangled photo machine.
- Call a friend and put a date in the diary for another gossip over a deliciously indulgent afternoon tea – yes it took you months to arrange the last one but January is as good a time as any to arrange it even if you have to book it in for August!
- Try that ‘Clubbercise” class you keep reading about and take some pals too – it will be much more fun than the gym.
That’s just the beginning; I’ve got more…as I’m sure you do.
Let’s try to make this the month (even better the year) we’re a tad kinder to ourselves. Let’s skip the “lose weight”, “stop drinking”, “give up chocolate”. Instead, let’s embrace the positives and do more of what makes us smile. After all 2017 is another 365 opportunities to be happy.
Post written by Women Aloud member [Laura F].
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*Bupa | 30 December 2016 | 2,000 respondents | http://www.bupa.co.uk/newsroom/ourviews/the-curse-of-the-new-years-resolution
** Statistic Brain Research Institute | January 2017 | 1,273 respondents | http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/