Redefining resolutions

Danielle Zukowski

New Years Resolutions present a beautiful opportunity to reflect and reinvent oneself. As an idealist, I quite appreciate ambitions to create a new you in the new wear. Of course, these resolutions often fall short. Early January the gym is packed with waits at each machine, but as time goes on, the numbers start to dwindle. Weight loss goals are aimed outside of realistic bounds. Goals fall short of completion. We lasted for a couple weeks and then there was that one slip up and then another and another then our goal has disappeared. What’s the point, right? Have you ditched resolutions because of past failures?

Maybe we can begin by redefining our idea of resolutions. I feel as though currently many resolutions act more as dreams. This is not to say that they are impossible to achieve. Certainly there are people who have succeeded in aspirations that appear out of reach. However, perhaps by creating goals that are a bit more accessible, chances of success would increases. For example, instead of the resolution to “stop smoking cold turkey,” perhaps one could create a process of monthly increments. Maybe the first week, you will actually make no changes in order to just monitor your current cigarette consumption.

Then, begin with smaller attainable goals. Next week, cut one cigarette on Mondays to instill a habit. According to Johns Hopkins, Monday can help kick start a change because as a culture we perceive it as the first day of the week therefore an opportunity for a blank slate. In addition, having that consistency creates a routine. Then perhaps get to the point after a couple of weeks, of having one less cigarette every day of the week. I’m a firm believer in the benefits of reductionism. You are allowed to progress slowly because through the creation of a routine, the resolution may become more ingrained.

However, resolutions aren’t for everybody. Maybe you’ve already lowered expectations for yourself, maybe you are trying, but it just doesn’t seem to work. Perhaps, you need something new. Maybe instead of having that heavy, pressuring resolution full of guilt in the absence of success, try having a focus word! So, if you’re perpetually late like me, it might be a little too much to say, “okay, this year I will be fifteen minutes early to everything!” This would be completely against my nature.

Reversing the ways that I have become accustomed to is not possible without exception. Perhaps, instead I could practice focused concentration every day using the word “attendance” or “preparedness.” Some classes at Grand Valley State University utilize 3 minutes prior to class to sit in silence with a blank mind or with attention toward a single thought. Every morning, I could follow this practice. Or another option is to draw, journal, or use another creative outlet to reflect each night about how successful you were in this pursuit. If you were, congratulate yourself. Nourish positive advances. If you were not, consider why you were not successful and how you may improve the next day.

Sometimes it may also help to think in the mindset that you are already pursuing your goals through the aid of affirmations. Instead of saying I will do something, say I am. Using present tense kind of confuses your brain into thinking that this is already the path you’re on. In addition, I also find a benefit in telling other people what this affirmation is. The reason for this being that once I tell other people, I want to fulfill the shoes of the person I’m presenting myself as. 

It’s also important to remember that the person you aspire to be does not have to wait until another new year or another new week. If you want to start something, start now.