Is a New Year with 0 New Years Resolutions Right for You?

A New Year on the horizon and the pressure to strive for a New You is immense.

A new year does NOT mean you need to start a new work out program or a new diet or suddenly become a new version of you. The current you is valuable and the future you does not need to be set up to be valued based on a checklist of achievements.  

These lines from Untamed by Glennon Doyle come to mind:

“I have learned that if I want to rise, I have to sink first. I have to search for and depend upon the voice of inner wisdom instead of the voices of outer approval”

A resolution by definition is “a firm decision to not do or do something”. This is not inherently unhelpful or un-useful. You are not right or wrong for perhaps already having a the list of resolutions written in your phone notes or a journal. In my private practice room there are goals being set all the time to help support shifting, growing, healing, being. Goals that support a persons autonomy to decide to do or not do something.

Traditional New Years resolutions in western culture however are often deeply tied to the pursuit of fixing or the strong pull towards perfectionism. This is particularly true when it comes to bodies, food and movement. It is actually out of the norm to decide to start a new year off without some intentions aimed at fixing these things.

Lose x amount of weight, fit into x size clothing, go to the gym x amount of times and on and on and on.

What are we all ultimately trying to fix though?

And where is that coming from?

You are not broken. You are already perfectly human which is to be imperfect and diverse in every which way, to both struggle and experience joy, to love and lose and to both cry and laugh.

It makes sense why you, or anyone, might feel like you need fixing. Year after year as you flip a new calendar open, buy a new planner or start saying “see you next year”, you are at the same time reminded by diet culture of some of its favorite messages:

“you are not enough, you should strive for more, you should be different, you should be better, you should try harder, you should do better and look better.”

You are also given many messages about what you should specifically look like. You are told you should be striving to look differently than you do right now in this moment and that this is normal to feel, expected behavior and actually makes you a better person for pursuing. You are led to believe that as you start a new year you should be hyper focused with more resolve and effort than ever to squash and contort yourself so you better fit all the expectations set forth about being a good human, having a body, being healthy and moving around in your body and caring for it.

The year ahead quickly becomes heavy with things about yourself that diet culture says you should be busy fixing before it even starts. It becomes heavy with shoulds that were never yours to begin with.

Hope is important, I am not saying not to desire more for yourself, for others, for this world, for change or to not want to continue to grow and become. I am sharing that New Years resolutions are often deeply tied into what culture has told you that you should want/want to become rather than what your own truth actually is. Pausing and questioning where beliefs and desires come from can be powerful.

How have they felt in the past? Did previous resolutions or goals ever leave you feeling guilty, disappointed, frustrated or inadequate? Did they help you feel more yourself, more alive, more connected?

0 New Years Resolutions, but 1 core theme?

A theme or intention embraces flexibility and unknown. It releases you from being oriented around the did or didn’t and success or failure that resolutions often provide a set up for. It supports breaking a cycle of setting rigid expectation of the year ahead and allows you to follow the coming days in a more open and curious way as they develop and you pursue the people/things/places which could take carry you closer to yourself, closer to the theme you’re living into (not what others or diet culture outlines you should want or be).

What is it that is calling to you? 

What do you want to live more deeply into this year?

This may be single word, it could be an emotion, it might be one of your core values. It might be something like “connection”, “grounded” or “curious”.

There is no getting this right or wrong. You come back to your theme over time, it is there to help support you in choosing to take or leave things throughout the year. 

But Lisa………..that seems so abstract. 

In a culture that likes to tell you how you should be and shouldn’t be, that favors rules and achievements, yes I can understand how it could feel quite different to a list of traditional New Years resolutions goals you systematically check off. It is. 

Maybe you have goals that you feel will help carry you more deeply into your theme. What I am talking about is not to throw goals out the window but to consider a departure from cultures expectations and desires for you and point yourself instead inward to your own internal compass. For many that may involve stepping away from New Years resolutions and trying something different because they are so entangled with external expectations and goals that actually belong to other people and systems. and trying something different. 

Consider spending time understanding what is calling to you, what that might sound like or feel like, so you can begin to embrace more of that and leave things that are separating you from it to the side as the year unfolds. If you have a list of goals already, consider where they come from. Does a theme emerge of what you are most deeply hoping for? Which ones truly come from you, what might come from outside you? What is best serving you?

Perhaps this year you choose a theme to lean into. 

Where might that lead you? 

Only time will tell.