Simplicity in the New Year

I guess by now it’s a little late to discuss New Year’s resolutions, but I feel it’s never too late make a note of change in one’s life.  You see, I’ve never been a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, in a traditional sense, because I feel like people typically aim too high and end up setting unattainable goals.  Going to the gym is a good example.

Let’s say your resolution involves going to the gym.  Okay, that’s an admirable change to make.  But, it’s sort of a flawed assessment.  A new year brings new optimism, meaning people tend to set goals too high for themselves.  Someone might plan to go the gym five times a week, only to quickly realize that’s far too much.  At this point they begin bargaining (I won’t go to the gym today, but I’ll be sure to do extra work tomorrow) and once that happens, the resolution is doomed.

I used going to the gym as an example, but really any lofty resolution can be made applicable in this situation.  It’s sad to see people just say “I want to do….” for a resolution but they never really question why.

My advice is to keep resolutions as broad and simple as possible.  If you set lower goals, they become more realistic, and even if it’s a less strenuous achievement, it still means a lot more accomplishing a menial task than enduring the hurt of failure because you folded on a larger goal.

At the risk of sounding like a total hippie, I think it’s wise to advocate a small slate of changes in the new year.  In my opinion, taking things away is simpler than adding things.  Adding five trips to the gym a week is a really good way to screw with your current routine, and that’s why health resolutions so often fail.  It’s the same thing with finding love, experiencing success or living better.  People typically look at “what’s missing” instead of focusing on things that may already be in place.

I’ll go back to my gym example, just because I think it’s the most widely used.  When someone makes going to the gym a resolution, it’s typically the result of a less than healthy lifestyle.  If you instead resolve to “live healthier” you now have a goal that’s attainable.  Instead of focusing on adding a bomb of exercise to your routine, start by taking away.  Remember, a resolution is supposed to last all year, so you don’t need to lose those 30 pounds in three weeks.  Start the year by eliminating soda from your diet.  Next, you can cut back on sugary or fatty foods, but continue to eat normally otherwise.  Finally, cut back on time spend being sedentary (television, computer, etc) and do something else that doesn’t involve sitting down.  Three small changes such as those give a good building block to a healthy lifestyle.  After this, you can begin adding things.  Start by adding two or three glasses of water a day to your diet.  Then, add in some healthier alternative to normal meals.  And finally, begin a routine of working out, whether it be light cardio of walking around the block.

I’m not a psychologist or a life coach, but I feel like taking small steps in resolving change is an effective strategy for actually seeing results in your life.

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