Evolution not resolution

Ok, so I’m about a week too late to do a post on New Year’s resolutions. Although, as revealed by the kind of scientific research known as “doing a quick Google search”, it seems the average resolution lasts only about a week; so perhaps I’m actually being rather timely.

I ummed and ahhed this December (or is it now ‘last’ December given it’s a new calendar year…?) about whether to make any New Year’s resolutions this time around. I always used to do it and yet ne’er has a resolution been kept long – or even medium – term (bar the one to stop biting my nails when I was about 13 – that’s still going strong two and a bit decades on). So a couple of years ago I decided that I wouldn’t make any New Year’s resolutions and that’s been that for the past few years. On the bright side it means I haven’t broken any resolutions so I can feel smug about that. However, it also means that nothing in my life has really changed. Of course, we shouldn’t strive to change our lives or ‘better ourselves’ if we are happy with things as they are – but most of us have a few things we’d like to work on or achieve. Hence this year I waivered between whether to make resolutions or not.

Eventually I decided I would walk the middle path. Resolutions have the flavour of being unyielding and specific and oh-so breakable. And indeed ‘resolute’. Absolute. And I have been guilty of making these kinds of resolutions in the past – not just at New Year either (check out my ’35 by 35′ post – I hardly achieved any of that stuff!) – and I’ve found it just leads to a horrible sense of failure when I don’t achieve my goal. On the other hand, not bothering to do anything at all differently didn’t work out so well either and so it seems that some kind of plan/goal/sense of direction is still required. So I have gone down the route of making looser plans and having broad ideas as to what I’d like to achieve in the coming year and beyond. Not so much ‘lose two stone by July’ but rather just a broad idea that I’d like to get my weight down this year. I’m also keen to look into some free online courses this year – and have indeed already started the process – but didn’t want to make a resolution to do anything more specific than that. I don’t want to feel a failure because I didn’t successfully finish three courses or get a qualification in a specific subject.

Another aspect to I’ve considered in making goals and plans is in looking at the process rather than the results. To use weight loss again as an example (since I’m a little overweight myself and it also seems to be a perennial favourite resolution with an awful lot of people): instead of setting a resolution to “lose two stone”, consider the more process-based “eat more fruit and veg and join a gym”. You could make the latter more specific if you wanted but the point is that  your goal is the HOW of losing weight and not the hoped-for end result. Firstly, you can actively control whether you go to the gym or eat a piece of fruit but you can’t really control whether ultimately your body will respond by getting you to the weight that you’ve randomly decided appeals to you. Secondly, what if you didn’t hit the exact weight you wanted? I know I would personally feel a failure if I only lost a portion of the weight I have aimed to lose. Whereas hopefully the weight loss is just a fantastic side effect of all that fruit-eating and gym-going (should I elect to do that…) and who gives a stuff about the precise number of ounces if it’s in the right ball park…or even the right direction!

So, for me, I’m not making any firm resolutions. I want my life to gradually evolve. I don’t believe in the New Year, New You rubbish that’s peddled out by the magazines year after tiresome year. I don’t want to be a whole new person. I just want the person I already am to continue to grow (though preferable not girth-wise) and to explore what life has to offer. And for me, in 2015, the things that spring to mind are: working on my relationship with food in the hope that this will both help my self-esteem and reduce my weight; looking at ways to be more organised in a bid to reduce stress; explore mindfulness; look into courses and volunteering opportunities; and try and make some headway with that huge stack of unread books…

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