The Thing About Resolutions

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Apparently we just had Blue Monday.

The most depressing day of the year. The day when all the New Years Resolutions fall apart and everyone crawls back into bed in their pyjamas with a family size tub of chocolates to cry themselves into a chocolatey sleep.

Personally I didn’t notice any difference. I did lots of work, did my tax return, did a workout and ate Pumpkin Pasta made from the last of the Pumpkin Puree I froze in October. What I have been thinking about this week though is this whole New Years Resolutions thing. I used to make New Year Resolutions. They were the same as everyone elses. Eat healthy, do more exercise, lose a stone, drink less, plus some others like learn to knit (still can’t).

Then I stopped making New Years Resolutions on the basis that they were ridiculous. They always made me feel like a failure by the end of March when I realised that I still hadn’t lost that stone or cleared out my wardrobe.

new years resolutions

That doesn’t mean I don’t make any changes in the New Year. It’s not really that weird when you think about it. Christmas is essentially a 2 week party. Even if you’re a sensible person and not a terrible glutton like me you’ll find it incredibly hard not to have over-indulged a little, whether it’s on food, or drink, or both. The most dedicated fitness pro will likely see their routine slip a little, I mean, the gym is actually closed on some of those days, plus there’s all the visiting family and work Christmas Do’s to go to. We’re at home a lot more so we’ll notice mess and clutter, and those weeks over Christmas are weeks we let our organised work schedule slip.

So it’s not REALLY weird to start January with a bit of a “RIGHT, LETS DO THIS!” attitude.

What is weird is the all or nothing pressure. The idea that we’re supposed to go from lazy couch potatoes drinking booze for breakfast to tee-total, carrot munching fitness freaks that get up at 5am to go for a run and have cleared their inboxes by 10am, all in one day.

So I didn’t just stop making resolutions, over time I’ve totally rebuilt my attitude to change and how it happens. Instead of viewing myself as a total failure who needs to make serious changes immediately in order to become the person I *should* be, instead I’ve learnt to understand who I am and understand my motivations. I learnt to think of myself as a pretty awesome human being, who could totally be more awesome if I did some things differently. I don’t make myself a list of things I’m going to do, I more have some general ideas of things I want to get in order. Some of them might require formal goals and plans. Others might be a little more fluid along the “I’d like my house a little more organised and slightly less like an episode of Hoarders.” lines.

Once you stop demanding perfection of yourself, suddenly change gets a bit easier.

I also think a lot harder about why I want to change something. That old “learning to knit” resolution, where did that come from? When I think about it I think it’s because I felt like I SHOULD be able to knit. I saw lots of folks with gorgeous vintage patterns that they’d knitted themselves and I thought I should be able to do that. What I really wanted was to have nice vintage style cardigans.

In actual fact I really don’t particularly enjoy anything crafty. I find it fiddly and irritating, there’s no sense of pride in creating something for me. I’m not particularly a “do-er”. I prefer to sit quietly and watch the world go by, or maybe read a book, I don’t need to have something to do with my hands. What I actually needed was to earn more money so I could pay someone else to make me nice jumpers!

Expressed out loud my New Year changes might sound a lot like the old resolutions I used to make, but I’ve learned to be kinder to myself. “I will set myself a weekly budget and stick to it” is not a punishment for the old me that runs out of money by the second week of the month. I KNOW that I’m impulsive, and I know I like to pop to the pub for a drink and treat myself to a nice bar of chocolate. Setting a budget is just a way of making sure I can spread those treats out. If I accidentally splurge and spend all my money in Week 3 of the month I haven’t failed, I’m just not perfect yet. I’m pretty sure I’ll totally get there, right? Because the world is absolutely full of perfect people.

Once you stop demanding perfection of yourself, suddenly change gets a bit easier. You’re always changing, always taking tiny steps toward being the first person in history to nail total perfection and have zero flaws. Going to the gym twice a week is a tiny step towards three times a week. Planning your meals 4 days out of 7 is better than the no days out of 7 you did last month, so yay you!

Even Mary Poppins didn’t manage to be totally perfect, but there’s nothing wrong with making tiny steps towards being your own version of practically perfect in every way.

Thing is, this method doesn’t stop in January either. I can constantly review life and make little changes to make sure my life is balanced. That’s what Glamorous July was all about. A mid year chance to stop and smell the hypothetical roses (hypothetical roses smell AMAZING, by the way.)

So yeah, I don’t make New Years Resolutions, but that doesn’t mean a shiny new year isn’t a chance to step back and review the things I’m doing, and see if my life is taking me in the direction I want it to.

Bring it on 2017.

What do you think?

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3 Responses
  • Porcelina
    January 18, 2017

    Loved this post Gemma! Your last words “see if my life is taking me in the direction I want it to” struck a particular chord. In the psychology world, it’s recognised that people are more likely to work towards goals when they’re in line with their personal values. So, it becomes less about those individual goals then (“go to gym twice a week”) and more about what you want out of life (“healthy” as a core value). I honestly find it so much easier to think about goals within that sort of overall, ‘direction’ context. I actually had a really happy Monday this week, I normally get through January okay and then it’s in February that I start to find winter all too much and start wailing “when will it end?”.

    • Gemma
      January 18, 2017

      Oh gosh, don’t make me think about February! I’m normally ok till Valentines Day and then those last couple of weeks are like the never ending winter weeks from hell!

  • Žanete
    January 18, 2017

    Gemma, I really loved reading your opinion on resolutions. I’m not a resolution person myself and I fell that I your post could help me fell better about myself. I really tend to be harsh on myself and think that I’m a failure even if I don’t make New Years resoutions. This is something to reread and think about more for me. Thank you!

  • Selina
    January 19, 2017

    I don’t make resolutions so it saves me annoyance when I break them. Sorted!

  • Selina
    January 19, 2017

    I don’t make resolutions so it saves me annoyance when I break them. Sorted!