The start of a new year is an exciting time! It feels fresh and shiny with hopes and promises. Many of us set new goals for things we would like to accomplish in the next 365 days. Unfortunately, for the majority of people, those goals fall by the wayside in a matter of months if not weeks (or even days) and we fall back into the same old habits that got us to where we were when we were wishing for something better.
One of the stumbling blocks for new year goals is the mindset surrounding resolutions. We tend to set a goal such as "exercise 5xs a week," and then we give up after the first week we don't meet our stated expectations because we believe we failed. We get so focused on the details of our resolution, e.g. # of pounds lost or drinking no soda, that we forget about the whole point of the resolution in the first place was to be healthier. If you were drinking 3 sodas a day and your resolution was to drink none but you end up caving and having one soda in a day, you didn't meet your resolution but you ARE being healthier! That should count as a win but when we set rigid goals with our resolutions, we tend to lose focus on that.
Demanding perfection is a dream-killer. Life demands flexibility! Changing habits is difficult and requires troubleshooting, self-compassion, and a growth mindset.
One way to avoid the perfection trap of new goals is to ditch the resolutions and instead pick up a theme for the year. For instance, my theme for 2021 is "Year of Stability." This year I will aim to improve stability in several areas of my life - mental health, nutrition, fitness, and finances. "Improve" is a vague term on purpose. The goal is the trajectory, essentially taking steps in the right direction. Any improvement over last year is a win and it's a goal that I will continue to work towards, troubleshoot, and adapt.
Think of resolutions as printing out directions and a theme as using your GPS in your phone or car. The latter can recalculate based on new information. If you take a wrong turn, it'll help you get back on track. Another thing that springs to my mind when I think of a yearly theme is Jack Sparrow saying, "Set sail in a general....that way direction."
New Years Resolution: Lose 20 lbs.
Theme: Year of Health
Result: Lost 12 lbs.
Resolution goes "well I'm too far behind now to catch up, so I might as well give up." Then you gain some weight back by going back to old habits. Theme sees progress! It asks what is working and what isn't then problem-solves how to make improvements to move forward.
New Years Resolution: Read 15 books
Theme: Year of Reading
Result: Read 5 books.
Resolution sees failure but the theme is excited because that's 5 more than last year!
The progress is still built on habits, but themes assume there will be better days and worse days, that there will be challenges to overcome, and it seeks progress rather than perfection. That mindset shift can be everything.
What is your theme for this year? What do you want or need most in your life? Boundaries? Reading? Curiosity? Creativity? Health or fitness? Acceptance or compassion? What is one thing that you will strive to progress over the course of the next 365 days and commit to trouble-shooting and growing over time?
CGP Grey on yearly themes: www.youtube.com/
Dreambook Planner: dragontreeapothe
Theme System Planner: www.thethemesyst