Resolutions: 6 Ways to Avoid the New Year’s Trap

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Do you wanna build a robot? Perhaps you could take this on, as Mark Zuckerberg has:

“Every year, I take on a personal challenge to learn new things and grow outside my work at Facebook… My personal challenge for 2016 is to build a simple AI to run my home and help me with my work. You can think of it kind of like Jarvis in Iron Man.” Or you could be like Kourtney Kardashian who listed eight resolutions on her website about the new person she is bound to become in 2018.

In my opinion, the new year isn’t supposed to be about making widespread character changes but can be a time for people to reflect on their overall behavior and lifestyle, perhaps particularly over the past year, and to consider how fully one is living.

Maybe there are choices or changes we can make to get more out of life — to be healthier, more engaged and present, more fulfilled, more giving, etc. When we feel we have a clean slate, people are more optimistic and driven to make changes or achieve growth. But it needs to be something we truly want and for which we are intrinsically, not externally, motivated and not something that society is saying we “should” want to have or look like.

For example, there’s a multi-billion-dollar weight loss industry out there pushing a message that in order to be truly happy and valuable, you have to look a certain way and “just follow this [often ridiculous, unscientific] plan and it’ll happen before you can say FRUITCAKE.

Magazines and commercials insist on this message, even more, this time of year since around 40% of New Year’s resolutions have to do with weight-loss. Even Oprah herself became a spokesperson for Weight Watchers after buying 10% of the company– her infamous “bread” commercial will forever be one of our favorite moments of 2015.

It actually saddens me that someone who has so publicly struggled with her weight and is seemingly a champion for people (maybe even especially women) to live fully and authentically is joining the bandwagon when these are the facts about these types of programs.

As long as someone believes this idea about image/size and self-worth and buys into the diet mentality, they’re actually unlikely to succeed and may end up damaging their self-esteem in the process.

By the way, 95% of diets fail. So there’s that.

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Anyway, back to the task at hand—discussing how to be successful with resolutions and what kinds may be most beneficial. To make lasting change, people have to be ready to modify their habits and often their ways of thinking. You have to create new neural pathways in your brain to change habits: the more we repeat something and use that portion of the brain in a focused way, we can reprogram our brain.

That’s why you have to stick with it past those first often easily successful two weeks. Be easy on yourself, understand that this actually isn’t just a decision made on January 1, but an intention that you can revisit anytime throughout the year. According to Forbes, only 8% of people who set resolutions are completely successful by the end of the year.

By making specific, measurable goals, allowing support and accountability, and ensuring it is being sought for the right reasons, I believe more people can achieve lasting success.

Here are my recommendations for 6 resolutions that will bring you fulfillment in the new year. Disclaimer: this isn’t meant to make it seem simple, but these modifications or additions, when done consistently, can help anybody with changing your brain or your relationship with food or your body, for example. Ok, here goes:

1. Write down 3 things you’re grateful for each morning.

These need to be written, not typed or texted. The act of actually putting hand to paper is therapeutic, so keep a journal on your nightstand. Starting the day with a list of gratitude helps set the tone for the day and research shows it increases happiness and satisfaction over time.

2. Meditate.

A meditation teacher once told me that if I do it for 10 minutes every day (at least 5 days a week) for 6 weeks, that I will feel and experience real differences. I’m a few weeks in and I can already tell a difference in my anxiety level, compassion, presence with people, ability to focus and control my mind, and I am more mindful/fully engaged. A few apps I like for this: Stop Breathe & Think, Headspace, and Meditation Timer. Find a good explanation of how meditation changes the brain here.

3. Be aware of your screen time.

I recommend putting your phone away during all meals and setting a couple specific times each day that you’ll check social media. This will limit those arbitrary “Facebook checks” throughout the day that adds up to a ridiculous amount of HOURS. You’ll find yourself being more productive and thoughtful about interactions with others. If you can’t avoid screen time for work, check out our article on how blue-light glasses can protect you from the harmful effects of overexposure.




4. Know when to say yes… or no.

Self-care includes knowing your limits and knowing what is good for YOU. Sometimes that means saying “no” to something so you can finish a project or take some time to recharge. But sometimes it means pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and taking someone up on an invitation that may end up being super fun. If you’re typically a ‘no person,’ try challenging yourself to say yes 3 times this month and vice versa.

5. Choose when you can be active.

This means making the simple, obvious choices of parking further away or taking the stairs rather than the elevator. It also means making the choice about physical activity that you enjoy. Don’t run if it feels tedious and loathsome (it can’t just be me that feels that way). If you enjoy doing Jazzercise or in-home videos or playing kickball, you go girl/you go boy! Finally, taking frequent leisurely strolls is also good for the brain and for decreasing stress.

6. Nothing is off limits.

By this I mean, no good foods versus bad foods. ALL foods fit, in moderation. And if you have the mindset that there aren’t things off limits and learn through meditation (#2!!!) how to mindfully eat, you will learn how to be satisfied and be able to trust your physical cues of hunger and fullness and practice body acceptance. In fact, you’ll likely find yourself listing your physical strength and attributes on your daily gratitude list.

The New York Times has claimed that past years have had us “obsessed over identity.” Perhaps this will influence us as we envision who we’d like to be or who we’d like to attract to our inner circles in 2018.

Check out Juliet discussing this topic on Charlotte Today

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