How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions: Real Talk

At the beginning of 2017, I made myself a lot of promises…10 promises in fact. Out of those 10 promises, I kept 4.

(By the way, I will be releasing a video on Friday – the 12th- about the details about my 2017 resolutions and my successes and failures last year, so if you’re curious, check out my YouTube channel!)

At the end of 2017, I looked back and started beating myself up for not doing better. So, I took some time away from the pressure of my goals, enjoyed time with family, and thought A LOT about how I could make improvements in 2018.

I realized that I give way too much weight to what’s going on around me: what I’m doing for work, how accomplished I am, the willpower and discipline to do anything and everything I put my mind to.

What I haven’t given weight to is taking the time to ensure my mind is in a good place before placing enormous pressure on myself, which unfortunately leads to some terrible avoidance tendencies.

If you’re in a rut, the last thing you need is to pack your plate with projects. So, here’s how we can all start 2018 off right:

Determine if Your Goals are a Band-aid

I spent 2015 and 2016 in a constant state of misery.

When 2017 came around, I thought that if I was doing things I could be proud of, I would automatically feel great all the time. Wrong!

Turns out I was just pushing the negativity down and pretending I had solved all my problems.

It’s easy to look at that extra 10 pounds, that language or instrument you want to learn, or your professional goals and think: “as soon as I have this, everything will be ok”.

But you can have everything you want in the world, and if you haven’t worked on the internal stuff first, you’ll never be happy. Trust me.

And if you’re currently prepping yourself to click the X at the corner of your browser as I ramble on about ‘self care’ you can relax. Spa days and eating your weight in chocolate isn’t the answer either. Instead, it’s about pausing at regular intervals to self-reflect.

How do you respond to obstacles? What is your temper like? What are your regrets? What is your internal narrative saying on a daily basis? What time are you wasting? Where are you pushing yourself too hard? What are your priorities/do your priorities need to change?

Once you give yourself time to think about these things, you might just realize that you don’t need to do x, y, z right now and that there are bigger problems you need to solve.

For instance, if that internal narrative has turned a little nasty.

Speaking of which…

Change How You Frame It

When you take the time to reflect, you may find that you haven’t been very nice to yourself. That inner voice is often full of fear, doubt, and even self-loathing.

If you’re approaching your resolutions like: “come on you piece of garbage, follow through for once in your worthless life!”, things are not going to go well.

If the work you need to put in day to day to reach your goals is a punishment for not being better sooner, of course you’re going to avoid it. We’re all hard-wired to avoid punishment!

Instead, think about why you are worthy of change and achieving everything you want. Think about how you get to put that work in and how it makes you better everyday.

As cheesy as it is, if you need to stand in front of a mirror and say positive things about yourself out loud to drown out the voices of doubt, just do it.

Don’t aim for perfection, just little improvements.  

You will still have days where you aren’t your best, where you achieve nothing and feel like a failure. But remember that no one bad day will be the ruin of you! To avoid turning a bad day into a rut, take a moment to plan how tomorrow can be better.

There is always room to make adjustments on the go!

Don’t Change Everything At Once

Not many people know that I experience episodes of hypomania. Essentially, it’s a low-level manic state where I feel like I can do way more than is humanly possible.

Because of this, I have a tendency to overfill my plate and start drowning. One day in university I convinced myself that I could do a semester worth of reading in one sitting…spoiler alert: I couldn’t.

You might think that I recognized this and created fewer goals for 2018. Actually, I more than doubled my resolution list!

But, instead of trying to do everything perfectly from day one, I prioritized my goals and created a staggered schedule to start working on them…which is why I’m starting with a Thursday *cough* Friday *cough* blog instead of a Tuesday one.

Since you need energy to get your sh*t together, the top priorities on my list are nutrition, sleep habits, and exercise.

And if I’m not doing well?

I’ve also promised myself that I’ll be flexible. I don’t have a crystal ball that will tell me when some external factor like the flu is going to throw me off course. Again, it’s all about adjusting on the go!

And maybe this approach means that I won’t start working on some goals until November, and that’s ok. That’s what prioritizing is all about.

That’s what I have today! Let me know in the comments what you hope to accomplish this year and if you’ve ever kept a resolution!!

I still owe you a actionable, step by step how-to on accomplishing any goal, so that’s what I’ll be starting with next week! See you then!

– Jenn


Title photo by:  Kyle Johnson

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