Happy New Year!
A new year presents so many possibilities. A chance to start over – at least a little. Motivation to reinvent ourselves, to be who we’ve always wanted to be. The opportunity to do all those things we’ve been dreaming of.
New Year’s Resolutions – in capital letters.
What Is a New Year’s Resolution Anyway?
Wikipedia’s definition of New Year’s resolution: “A New Year’s resolution is a tradition, most common in the Western Hemisphere but also found in the Eastern Hemisphere, in which a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behavior.”
So there it is. An undesired trait or behavior. When we choose to make a New Year’s resolution, we send a message to ourselves that there’s something wrong with us, that we aren’t good enough. We need to do better. We need to be more.
It’s a pretty negative way to start the new year.
To further shine light on the possible futility of New Year’s resolutions, Wikipedia shares some statistics:
“The most common reason for participants failing their New Years’ Resolutions was setting themselves unrealistic goals (35%), while 33% didn’t keep track of their progress and a further 23% forgot about it. About one in 10 respondents claimed they made too many resolutions.
“A 2007 study by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol involving 3,000 people showed that 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail, despite the fact that 52% of the study’s participants were confident of success at the beginning.”
So are you ready to abandon those resolutions?
How About a Self-Care Promise?
I’ll admit that I have made many New Year’s resolutions in the past (although not every year – some years I refused to set myself up for failure and ignored any thoughts of New Year’s resolutions). And this year, while I was making my list of 2017 resolutions as the end of 2016 was approaching, I came across a blog post that discussed the idea of self-care instead of resolutions. It made sense. It just sounded kinder, more balanced, and healthier emotionally, mentally, and physically.
What if, instead of making lists of the things we need to improve about ourselves, we focus on self-care? That’s right: care for yourself. What if our “New Year’s resolutions” became self-care promises instead?
Self-care may, at first thought, seem selfish. It might feel narcissistic. But it’s not. If we aren’t focused on self-care, if we aren’t taking care of ourselves, it’s difficult for us to be present in all areas of our lives. It makes sense that in order to bring our best selves to others and ourselves, we need to lay a foundation. That foundation is built by caring for ourselves.
Planning for a Life Not a Year
Really, New Year’s resolutions are somewhat short-sighted. They are goals to accomplish and changes to make that will happen within the span of the year – or less. But what if I think of it a different way, if I focus on the idea of caring for myself, thinking in a macro sense rather than a micro sense. Doesn’t that seem like a healthier approach? Long-term vs. short-term. How do we want our lives to be in a year, yes, but also in five years, in 20 years? What do we need to do to make that happen?
On that mental 2017 resolution list, one of my top to-do’s was to lose a few pounds (original, right?!) and incorporate strength training into my fitness plan. It was for sure a “need-to-fix-me” idea. But if I focused on self-care rather than self-improvement, I could decide instead to incorporate some practices into my routine that would lead to a more fulfilling life, to a better quality of life, to maybe a goal of being healthy enough to be able to interact with my grandchildren when I have them (which will not likely be anytime soon, so I’ll need to focus on activities that help retain my vigor for a long time!).
I don’t want to get to far “into the weeds” with this discussion – I am sure you get the idea.
This new way of beginning the new year and approaching life may take some thought. It’s important that we reflect a bit on what exactly is important to us.
A key to staying with your promise for self-care is to be sure your motivation is to do something for yourself rather than for others. Treat yourself with love, incorporate things into your life that bring you joy. Allow time for what you like to do – reading a great novel, taking a walk, going to a movie, having coffee with a friend, going to the gym, trying something new like a 5 or 10 minute morning meditation before you start a busy day.
I’m going to do my best to keep my self-care promises and see where it leads me this year.