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The holiday hangover is long gone. Christmas trees lined the streets the morning of trash day last week. All the kids have broken in their presents. You've acclimated your contacts to your new phone. You returned that sweater your aunt bought you. Santa has already started working on next Christmas. And your new year's resolution is in full swing. Fantastic!
Exercising more. Eating right. Being more understanding. Being a better friend. No more binge-watching Criminal Minds on Netflix. All of these things are viable, common resolutions. They sound great. But how long is it going to be before you've cancelled the gym membership, ordered two pizzas after a hectic work week where you wanted to quit, told your best friend you can't hang out because you're sick, and you're watching the latest season of Criminal Minds (which is now available on Netflix) in its entirety in one sitting?
Is there anything really wrong with that?
Here's the issue with new year's resolutions. Unless tragedy strikes, it's difficult for anyone to make an abrupt uprooting of their habits. Psychologically, it might be harmful if you try to. Deprivation is never healthy, and going cold turkey (or going h.a.m., depending on the resolution) is only going to worsen the habit you're trying to erase.
Think about your resolution. Is it something you came up with between Christmas Day and New Year's Eve? Even better, was it something you decided on January 3rd because you felt like you had to do something? All the cool kids have resolutions, so why not you, too? Or, was it something you've been thinking about much earlier last year?
A resolution is not an abrupt change. It is a solution that executed after long consideration of how to tactfully resolve a problem. To put pressure on yourself to completely resolve a problem the moment the sun rises on January 1st is absurd.
Resolution is a good thing. But only in small doses. It comes gradually. The best "new year's resolutions" are the things you said you were going to do and then you took the necessary steps in order to do it.
Image by Keit Trysh. Retrieved via StockSnap
In the spring of 2012, I decided I wanted to lose weight. I started in March. By September 2013, I'd lost 75 pounds. Along the way, I learned better eating habits. I educated myself on what it really meant to be healthy. I listened to my body. I exercised efficiently, not excessively. And now, in 2017, I've kept that weight off. For 4-5 years, I've been healthy, and I'm still seeking ways to get better. Of course, I've fluctuated, but that's okay. The key here is that resolution is not absolute, it's complicated and it has many parts that we need to educate ourselves on.
A resolution is something aim for that we might not ascertain.
A resolution is not an overnight success. It is a journey.
A resolution may not conclude how we first imagined it.
A resolution that is not kept or met is not entirely a failure.
A failure is not always a bad thing.
Whatever your resolution is, if you have one, make sure that it's something that you've been contemplating for a while. There's no better time to start than now, because this is the only time we really ever have. Time is a construct, man. Starting something on January 1st is not really much different from May 22nd. Waiting until Monday is an excuse. If you aren't going to start something now, then you're never going to finish later.
As disciplined as we may want to be, relentless rigor isn't what the human brain is naturally built for. Sometimes, you got to breathe.
I'm all for personal growth. We all have things we could be better at. I have a long list of things I want to improve upon, and I'll work diligently--or not--to make sure I achieve those goals. Will I be binge-watching TV shows while inhaling slice after slice of pizza? No. But if I did, I'm not going to beat myself up about it.
What 'resolutions' do you have in mind? How are you trying to grow as a person? Share in the comments!