Sometimes New Year's resolutions can be a lot of B.S. Not the making them part, the keeping them part. If they fall by the wayside, we feel like a failure. But really, not keeping a resolution just makes us human.
So over the past few years, I didn't do resolutions. Dealing with the responsibility and weight of having to keep up with whatever my goals were for the New Year just made me want to opt out altogether. The thing is, we make "resolutions" all the time, not just at the beginning of a new year. (I started 30 Days of Yoga around Thanksgiving, and after getting almost halfway through, my daily routines on the mat were swallowed up by the craziness of the holidays. Grrr! But I'm back at it, doing a new 30-day challenge, Yoga Camp.) Every time we set a goal, whether it's to do with exercise, or work, or family, it's taking a chance on ourselves. (The best kind of chance to take.)
This year, I've come across some cool new ways to think of "resolutions" (you'll see why I'm using quotes in a minute) from three of my favorite big thinkers: Adriene Mishler, yoga instructor and YouTube sensation of Yoga with Adriene; Leandra Medine, creator of the fashion website and blog The Man Repeller; and Brené Brown, PhD., scholar, author, and (no biggie) friend of Oprah. I've taken a few of their genius thoughts and applied it to my planning for 2016. These bits of wisdom make me feel more confident about taking a risk or two (they might just do the same for you, too!) and they apply to any kind of goals, big or small, that we set year-round. So without further ado, here are the three tips to get on the right track for success, and most of all, to be gentle and forgiving of yourself, no matter what the outcome.
1. Nix the word "resolution."
The big thinker and her message: In her 30 Days of Yoga and her Yoga Camp programs (I'm obsessed!), yoga instructor Adriene Mishler sends out daily encouragement emails along with each new video. Her emails are my favorite thing to wake up to; they're so positive and uplifting. In one such email, Adriene talks about replacing the word "habit" with "ritual." She says, "The idea of creating Healthy Rituals sounds like something I want to do—not something I HAVE to do. Just think about that for a moment. Researchers have shown that if you are on the path to creating a new habit—whoops, I mean ritual—it is okay if you get off track. Studies have shown that those who miss a day or more can still stay on the ritual/habit forming path to success."
Why this is important: Take this mentality, of swapping a word or idea with one that puts you in a healthier mindset, by replacing New Year's "resolution" with "practice." Here's how I see the difference between the two: Resolution has this idea of "fixing" something, "fixing" ourselves, which is a pretty negative way to begin. Practice (to me, at least) has a gentler connotation than resolution. Sure, it sounds very "om" ("my practice"), but the word encourages a more forgiving, positive thought process, which is so necessary when we're trying to make all the wonderful things happen. In the end, more important than how you label your goals, be kind to yourself along the way. We're much more likely to get back on the path to success after veering away when we know it won't be a perfectly straight, steady line.
2. Make free time happen.
The big thinker and her message: Leandra Medine, founder of the fashion website/blog The Man Repeller has a podcast she hosts called Monocycle. In the very first episode, "Burnout," she talks about how a lot of us are feeling overwhelmed and unhappy in today's crazy, fast-paced world (er, I can relate!). She said she's been feeling burnt out, and that the solution was to make extra time, "me time," for herself. "I'm starting to feel much more precious about free time. Cause it's not really free time. There's no such thing as free time."
Why this is important: Listening to this episode, it hit me that all the delicious free time I always imagine just magically appearing never will! (The fact that we have quite a lot of control over our time is both scary and empowering.) In the episode, Leandra says she gets up an hour earlier one day a week to do things that she simply likes to do. It gives her something to look forward to. By planning to create time for your New Year's practices each week, by essentially making it an appointment, by making yourself a priority, it makes life much more enjoyable and much less overwhelming.
3. Start setting more boundaries.
The big thinker and her message: I've been reading one of Brené Brown's amazing books, Daring Greatly, and it's totally opened my eyes to the necessity of being vulnerable (and all the ways we try to avoid showing vulnerability). I keep bookmarking and highlighting every other page, I find it so fascinating! I love what Brené writes about setting boundaries. Here she's referencing a group of research participants she worked with: "When we asked that group about the process of setting boundaries and limits to lower the anxiety in their lives, they didn’t hesitate to connect worthiness with boundaries. We have to believe we are enough in order to say, “Enough!” For women, setting boundaries is difficult because the shame gremlins are quick to weigh in: “Careful saying no. You’ll really disappoint these folks. Don’t let them down. Be a good girl. Make everyone happy.” For men, the gremlins whisper, “Man up. A real guy could take this on and then some. Is the little mamma’s boy just too tired?” This is a pretty deep way of explaining why we avoid setting boundaries, but it makes sense. My people-pleasing ways make it super hard to say no.
Why this is important: In order to carve out the time for our new practices, setting boundaries is key. Ideally, once we get our minds on a positive track (tip number one), accept that free time is within our control to create (tip number two), then what's left is actually creating that space.
One of my resolutions (er, practices) for 2016 is to prepare my blog posts further ahead of time (real talk!). Knowing that it will take some time and effort to make it a habit, I've decided to clear every Wednesday night. Nothing but me and blogging. Much easier said than done, of course, but I'm going for it!
Wishing you the best of luck on planning and achieving all of your New Year's practices!