Forget New Year’s Resolutions! Resolve What’s Eating You Inside

Did you make a resolution for this year?

Three days in, how are you doing with your resolution?

Still going strong? Awesome!

Or are you starting to think you may have been a bit too enthusiastic with your goals?

The reality is that most resolutions “fail,” not because we are weak but because we are bad at looking at the bigger picture. We craft resolutions that are sprints and then expect them to go the distance. We confuse effort with outcomes and neglect to address the very real obstacles in our way.

Yet we try again each year.

And you know what they say about doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results:)

So if your New Year’s resolutions aren’t working for you, try these resolution hacks instead!

I’ve never been a fan of resolutions. They always seemed punitive to me – starting with the belief that you’ve been “bad” and need to be “good.” They are usually black and white, leaving little room for adjustment. Most people give up on their resolutions within weeks; I merely need to count the heads in the gym every January to see this in action. People start out with the loftiest goals and, when they fail to meet them, they often internalize the failure, leading to the demise of the intention.

A standard resolution only scratches the surface. It focuses on the number on the scale rather than your relationship with that number. It looks at the balance in your bank account and discounts how that number is related to your self-worth. As such, even if the resolution is reached, there may still be a residual sense of unhappiness as the real issues remain untouched.

All of that is not to say that resolutions are inherently ineffectual. Growth and change is important and should be embraced (no matter the date on the calendar). And it can be done while embracing your imperfect, human self. Rather than see resolutions as a single question, pass/fail exam, look at it as a process, a cycle. There is no failure, no shame in being less than perfect. Rather, each time you fall short of your intention, is simply a sign to learn and begin again.

Sure, you can set a goal about what you’re eating. But in order to tackle what’s really eating you inside, complete the following statements and exercises:

“I can’t…”

Start by identifying your self-limiting beliefs by recognizing the restrictions you place on yourself with your thoughts and your words. Maybe you think you can never obtain that degree or complete that 5K. Perhaps you’re convinced that you’ll never find love again or that you can never get over a lost love. Spend some time brainstorming here. These thoughts become so natural, so much a part of us, that they soon become part of the surroundings and difficult to identify.

Now that you’ve identified what you believe you can’t do, it’s time to prove yourself wrong. Pick one of your limiting beliefs about yourself and make it happen. It will be difficult, mainly because your biggest opposition is your own mind.

I tackled one of my own “I can’ts” on my 30th birthday. Until that point, I had never been able to run a mile. Even in school. I had various excuses – asthma, a bad ankle – that all had some merit. But my real obstacle was myself and my internal narrative that said, “I can’t run.”

So on that birthday, I went to a local part with a half-mile track and I ran halfway around it before I collapsed. I went back the next day. And the next. Six years later, I ran a full marathon, officially proving myself wrong.

I could have phrased my resolution as simply wanting to run a marathon. But by thinking of it in terms of removing a self-imposed boundary, I was able to gain a sense of confidence and achievement that would not have been possible otherwise.

“I’ll be happy when…”

We all have a tendency to play this game, assuming that once the goal weight has been reached, the promotion earned, the child conceived, we will be happy. Uncover your own factors that are keeping you in life’s waiting room.

That was the easy part. The surface.

Now, dig into why you believe you’ll be happier once that particular goal is reached. How do you think your life will look differently? How do you expect you’ll feel differently?

And then question the assumption that you have to wait for that event to occur before you can be happy. Craft a duel resolution that provides steps towards your goal while, at the same time, focuses on your happiness while your working to make that intention a reality.

We often assign an almost-magical ability to an unachieved goal, believing in the dream that once that one piece is in place, everything else will be smooth. This two-prong resolution approach helps to limit that magical thinking while also ensuring that you’re not wasting your life in limbo, waiting for a goal that may never be realized.

I found myself embroiled in the “I’ll be happy when…” fallacy after my divorce. I was facing years of payments on the debt that my husband accrued and dumped in my lap. Payments that meant I had very little money to spare on extras or even necessities. I was counting down the months until I would be free of the debt and also be happy again. As though I could only be happy when I had money for myself.

A few months in, I found myself angry. At myself.

Yes, my ex left me the debt, but I was allowing it to hold me prisoner. I made a promise to myself to not feel limited by my financial situation. Even as I worked to pay off the balances, I worked even harder to pay myself. Not in money, but in experiences and things that brought me joy.

I could have made a resolution to simply pay off the debt. But then, I quite possibly could have found myself back in the black yet still feeling bankrupt in life.


“I’m grateful for…”

I’ve always found it funny that we focus on gratitude for what we have in November and then follow it with a focus on what we don’t have in January. Every resolution can benefit from a side of gratitude. Be thankful for what you have at the same time you’re striving for what you want.

I never said this would be easy. But it will be worth it once you resolve what is really eating you inside.

Thank you for sharing!

2 thoughts on “Forget New Year’s Resolutions! Resolve What’s Eating You Inside

  1. emje – driftless wisconsin – my shadows are part of who i am. without those dark spots you wouldn’t be able to see my bright colors & beautiful light…. without my dark bits i think life would be much more dull.... i am sad & silly. i am fierce & fantastic. i am passionate & magical. i am a fucking unicorn.
    em4mighty says:

    i have never ever understood or done new year’s resolutions, probably because i consider myself a “work in progress & try (and sometimes fail) every day to improve myself. this works better for me, and often i do succeed in what i am aiming for. it is more difficult (& more defeating?) to try to do all the tweaking at once rather than spreading it out to the every day.

  2. 1. No, I do not make resolutions.
    2. I’m doing great…life is good.
    3. It is just another day. Keeping an even keel.
    4. No resolution, no failure. Keeping my eyes looking forward (block all of the ex-wife and ex-family phone numbers brings peace of mind). The past 30 years are behind me and a better life is ahead…one day at a time.

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