Finding Forgiveness in Broken Resolutions
For the holidays one year I received everything I would need to stick to a healthier lifestyle: a few cookbooks, a new cutting knife, a Ninja blender and a food scale were among my generous lot. After cringing at the realization of how truly ‘adult’ my wish list was, I couldn’t’ wait to get home and start meal prepping. Visions of being in the best shape of my life danced around my head like Zumba instructors. With my new bag full of wellness gadgets, I was positive this year would be a success. Yet, to no one’s surprise, by the end of January there were unused vegetables rotting in the fridge and neatly tied running shoes still in their box. Fitness swag didn’t magically make me want to get out of bed at 5 a.m. and hit the gym. It didn’t help me pick myself up off the couch at night to chop vegetables, either; Netflix still seemed like a more valuable use of my time.
I know I’m not alone; this is a shared, some may say even cliché, story. I’ve come to believe it’s so common because most resolutions we make, while good intentioned, often start with something in the external world rather than inside ourselves. We convince ourselves that a new planner will make us organized; new leggings will make us show up to yoga more often; an absence of carbs in the house will allow us to stick to our diet. In reality, nothing and no one can change our ways. Only we can do that.
So how do we avoid the false starts we perceive as failures each year? Before doing anything, or buying anything for that matter, we must first look inside of ourselves. We don’t need new material things; we need new outlooks, new chances and a newfound confidence. Through this re-birth of mindset I am now able to confidently say I sustain a balanced lifestyle filled with both french-fries and fitness classes. Though it may just sound like advice from some sage on a stage, understanding that habit changes are the true essence of resolutions will help us shift our approach.
This year, when your hopes for long-term change feel like they are starting to be sacrificed for short-term satisfaction, make sure to check-in. Start by asking important questions like “Why do I want to accomplish this?” or “Are my expectations realistic?” A journal or simple blank document on your laptop can help to get these answers down in a concrete form. Be true to yourself when answering them. With everything written down you can re-read and start to dissect your discoveries (and by ‘dissect’ I don’t mean obsess over!). Writing things down can help to lift pressure from the soul. When you make a decision that was not beneficial to reaching your goal, write down a reflection on why that might have happened. Be honest here, too. Resolutions are not about keeping your word at the cost of your sanity, they are about releasing your grip into the comforting arms of accountability. When that pressure is lifted, negative energy will no longer mask your resolution as a sprint instead of the marathon that true transformation is.
If success was predetermined in our favor, we may not be so fearful of missteps. We might even grow stronger in our patience for the process! The only way to know for sure is relentless self-forgiveness, authentically checking-in with our believed idea of success and a vast, vast ocean of patience. While the old saying goes “new year, new me”, really, every new second, every new moment, is an opportunity to reset and start again.