I used to be a big fan of new year’s resolutions. January 1st always seemed to me like the promise of a brand-new beginning. A perfect, bright-white page just waiting to be filled with an entirely new version of me. I would spend the time between Christmas and New Year making big plans, writing them on lists in bold letters, meticulously outlining the necessary steps towards achieving my goals. I typically listed points like “eat healthier”, “workout more”, “meditate daily”, “worry less”, “let go of bad habits” – all the usual suspects. Every year I had my perfect list of resolutions that were just waiting to be manifested in the 365 days to come….
And then I would abandon them all by mid-January (at the latest). It didn’t take long until I gradually fell back into old routines, skipped my resolutions on one day, then two, then an entire week. And soon I omitted them altogether, and the well-devised new version of me turned back into the old one.
I’m definitely not the only one to experience this. Statistics say that at least 80% of all new year’s resolutions fail by February. They end up unfulfilled, like unfinished books, patiently waiting for the next year to draw to a close and for them to be revived again, written on new lists with the very same confidence that they will work this time – and abandoned again.
But why is it so hard to keep our new year’s resolutions? Why are the goals we’ve set ourselves so hard to attain, even when planned with the highest hopes and best intentions?
Because change hardly ever happens all at once. It’s a process, and continuous evolution, not something you can transform from one day to the other. Setting ourselves big goals that are the total opposite of how we are used to doing things makes success much harder to achieve. And as we realize that the steps towards our big goals aren’t compatible with our daily structures and obligations, we abandon them entirely instead of adapting them to meet our needs. “The same procedure as every year.” – as the quote from Dinner for One says.
Social media are flooded with articles and blog posts about resolutions and how to finally make them work. And of course I was tempted to just follow their advice and give it a new try this year in order to encourage positive change and consciously create my own happiness.
But upon thinking about what I would really like to manifest next year, I ended up deciding to try a different approach to my new year’s resolutions. First of all, I changed the term “resolution” to “intention”. The connotation is much more positive and creates a totally different mindset. Second, I replaced all the goals I would usually write on my list with one single intention:
Do something good for yourself every single day.
This is the only goal I’m setting for myself next year. Anything counts that makes my body, my mind, or my soul feel good. That can be a 5 minute mindfulness meditation in the morning, a walk in nature, a healthy meal, a massage, or an evening out laughing with friends. The only “rule” is to consciously practice a ritual of self-care every single day, 365 days.
This strategy has several advantages. Instead of planning giant leaps and biting off more than we can chew, it can be more effective to take small steps towards a more fulfilled life. Cultivating multiple different self-care rituals also broadens the range of options to choose from. One day you might treat yourself to an hour’s yoga class or go for a run, on another you might be in the mood for cooking a delicious healthy meal to fuel your body or for learning a new skill.
But most importantly: there is no failing. By taking away the pressure of defining only one way to succeeding (like cutting sugar out of your diet) you allow yourself countless ways to manifest your intention day by day. Try out as many different ways as you like to do something good for yourself. You will find that there are plenty. Those changes that really resonate with you will gradually become good habits, and truly bring about transformation.
If the idea of doing one thing that’s good for you every day appeals to you, join me in making this the intention for the coming year – I would love to hear how it is coming along for you, so keep me posted how it is going!
I am excited to find out what the next year holds in store. May it be filled with many blessings for everyone of us!