Here we are again. The beginning of a new year. With all its promise and possibility. This is the time of year when a good portion of us begin to analyze what is going well in our lives and what is not. Often, we are looking to change things for the better, but have you ever noticed that change usually entails taking something away? Taking away habits, taking away pounds, even taking away whole food groups! It usually involves some sort of punishment for us, a restriction from something we think we are doing wrong. Let’s face it, resolutions tend to be inherently self-critical. Now I know that this can include a change for the better, but maybe we are approaching it with the wrong method.
When we approach the change of unwanted behaviors with punishment, we are making the process of change a negative experience. It can be counterproductive to place this stress and pressure on ourselves. The focus on the negative, or what is wrong, could be exactly what is inhibiting the change in the first place. Perhaps the right approach entails adding a little something positive into our lives, and those habits and vices that we are trying to restrict will just take a back seat. Find something we love to do outdoors, and maybe that extra weight will come off naturally, no special diet required. Replace the evening social media scrolling with family dinner and the evening conversation and reconnection will be something that you look forward to every day, with the added bonus of decreased screen time. Add that cooking class and nutrition instruction to the calendar and becoming healthier in the new year becomes second nature.
Releasing some of the self-criticism and restriction and adopting a little self-compassion may be all that we need for a successful and healthy year ahead. With a solid portion of self-compassion, we are far less likely to fear failure and much more likely to seek out new experiences. Research shows that 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by mid-February. Maybe if we approach resolutions as an opportunity to add something to our lives instead of taking something away, our aspirations will survive well into the next year and beyond!