Why making New Year’s resolutions doesn’t work {and what to make instead}

Fireworks
Happy New Year!

The year has turned again. Happy New Year!

Traditionally this is a time to make New Year resolutions… and traditionally, about say 5 or 6 weeks down the line, is the time to break them and feel a sense of defeat and self-judgement and all round grumpiness.

I don’t want you to feel that way!

I know that you can make the changes you want to in your life – and stick to them. To fulfil your potential. To shine out your gifts to the world.

How? Well, step one: don’t bother with New Year resolutions.

Scrap ‘em. Don’t even think about them.

Why?

Because they’re setting you up to fail.

Why our resolutions don’t work

There are two underlying reasons why New Year’s resolutions get broken so easily.

Let’s look at popular resolutions.

E.g. to give up smoking, get fit, lose weight, join a gym, stop drinking or to drink less, spend more time with family / friends, achieve a better work/life balance, do more yoga.

What have they all got in common?

They’re either not based in the here and now or they’re negative.

They’re about stopping a behaviour e.g. giving up smoking or drinking less, which is starting from a negative i.e. something you’re no longer going to do.

Or they’re something that’s going to happen in the future and they’re usually pretty vague e.g. you’re going to lose weight, you’re going to spend more time with friends; you’re going to practise more yoga.

And that’s the problem.

You see them as something that’s going to happen if you do x,y, or z. They’re an aspiration. They’re something you’re going to achieve if you can give something up or make an effort.

From the get-go, they’re something which you’re identifying as not being part of your present reality.

Focus on the here and now

So try changing the focus and see how that feels.

Change the focus from something that’s got to stop or will happen in the future, to the present tense.

Don’t make New Year’s resolutions – make New Year’s affirmations.

  • Instead of resolving to give up smoking, affirm “I am free from my dependency on cigarettes”
  • Instead of saying you’re going to drink less, affirm “I value my health and eat and drink what is good for my body and well-being”
  • Instead of resolving to get fit, affirm “I am motivated and full of energy and take regular exercise to look after my body”

A good affirmation will make you want to say “yes!” – it will resonate with you deeply.

Yes, all these affirmations still require  you to take actual steps and change your behaviour, but bringing them into the present tense makes them feel so much more real and attainable doesn’t it?

Write them down and put them somewhere you’ll see them every day. Get into the habit of taking a few moments every day to read them.

As you read them out, visualise yourself in the state you’re describing. How do you feel? What effect does this have on your body, mind and emotions?

Start to feel and connect to your new reality.

Make it real.

So what are my New Year’s affirmations?

Here are my resolutions turned into affirmations:

  • To stop rushing around so much becomes: “I move with ease and grace – I have the time to accomplish everything I wish”
  • To stop wasting time on social media becomes: “I use social media mindfully, to connect with my friends and to communicate with my yoga community”
  • To stop pushing myself so hard and writing impossibly long to-do lists becomes: “I align my actions with my intentions; I create realistic plans and put them into practice”

Make yours a fulfilled and contented year

Identify the changes you’d like to make then turn them into positive statements in the present tense.

Say “yes” to change you’d like to see in your life.

Say a loud, emphatic “YES”, to that inner voice which questions “can you really do that?”

Say “yes” to the New Year and the wonderful opportunities it will bring.

Happy New Year!

May this year bring you all you truly need to live a prosperous, authentic and happy life.

May you connect to the inner strength, resolve and love which enables you to become or maintain the best version of you, and to share your unique gifts with the world.

See also: Gain a sense of perspective: sell the goat! My New Year’s thoughts from last year.


What next…

In the Southampton area? Come to a weekly class for regular calming mindful movement and relaxation in a supportive atmosphere. I teach several public classes a week and monthly workshops – check out my yoga class timetable and workshops schedule to find out more and make a booking enquiry.

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{Photo credit: Walter-Wilhelm / Foter / CC BY}

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