This year looked a little different, but whether you thought it went by too quickly or you’re of the opinion that it was the longest 365 days on record — and since 2020 was a leap year, it was actually 366 days long — it’s all but over now. It’s time to look ahead and make plans for next year, and for many people that means making New Year’s resolutions and hoping they stick.
After the year you’ve had, you deserve some self-care. Now that likely looks a little different for different people. Your version of self-care might be all about a morning skincare routine and doing all your meal prep on Sunday so you don’t have to think about it during the week, but it might also be about letting yourself not do things.
Here’s a little secret: most New Year’s resolutions fail because they are a source of stress rather than a relief from one. If you’re stressed out and worried about your physical health, for example, then exercise can actually be a relief from stress instead of its cause. However, for lots of people who just have a vague idea that they’d like to be healthier than they are right now, a resolution to do more exercise quickly becomes a source of stress. Knowing your stressors and your limits will empower you to achieve your goals.
Knowing your limits might not seem like something particularly empowering, but it is perhaps one of the most empowering things you can do. Let’s your goal is to eat healthier, so you decide to eat fresh vegetables and cook at home. If you don’t do it, you’ll feel bad and you might even give up. If you don’t do it because of time and budget constraints, that’s a different ballgame. It’s a limitation you can work inside by eating out less, or by having frozen instead of fresh vegetables or just using less salt and sugar. Something that is achievable within your limitations is more likely to get done than something that might be outside your limitations. This isn’t to say that you can’t push the boundaries of what is possible, but it depends on the boundaries.
Boundaries here are twofold. Some boundaries are designed to be crossed. Maybe it’s your intention to lose ten pounds. Once you cross that threshold it’s up to you to set another finish line farther out. Sometimes the best resolution you can make is to set a boundary that you will not let yourself or others cross. Maybe you’re going to stop checking social media during mealtimes, and maybe you’re going to make stricter rules about when you will and won’t take work calls and emails.
Set a Schedule
Schedules are also twofold. There is the daily, habitual schedule of tasks that you do on a regular and repeating basis. Maybe you’re getting up at 7 instead of 7:30 so you can do yoga in the morning and maybe you’re exercising every other day. In addition to this small schedule of healthy habits there is a bigger schedule that goes all the way until this time next year. A resolution without direction isn’t very well resolved. When you’re deciding on and designing your resolutions for the new year, don’t just make an unfocused goal to do one thing or the other. Make a focused goal that has goalposts every month or every quarter. It’s hard to keep up with a goal if you don’t know exactly how you’re going to get there.
Jumpstarting healthy routines this New Year’s is not going to be any easier this year than it was last year, but if you don’t try, you definitely won’t succeed. Prioritizing self-care is a good start, don’t forget to identify your limits and make sure to set boundaries and a schedule. That will help to ensure that you build healthy habits that will last all year long.