New Year's resolutions 2019
January 1st, 2019
New Year's resolutions... What good are they?
As the New Year approaches, looking back on the previous year and getting excited about the upcoming year is natural. We all get to think about and take pride in our own achievements, recall the crazy shit Donald Trump has said, and binge a whole bunch of 'Best of 2018' videos on YouTube. My favorites are People are Awesome, FailArmy, and my guilty pleasure, BeamNG Drive. Along with looking back on the year, there's a lot of stuff to be excited about in 2019. 2020 Election bids will start coming in, you can contribute more to your 401K and IRA, and road bike saddles will finally be more comfortable for your... soft tissues. Best of all, 2019 will be your best year so far. In order for it to be your best year, you've likely gone ahead and set some resolutions for yourself. So, how are resolutions beneficial?
Time for introspection
Resolution time reminds you to think back on what made you happy and what didn't make you happy throughout the past year. Maybe you drank a lot more water this year, great! Maybe all of that extra water made you feel bloated, but you like not feeling dehydrated, so you decide to lose some belly fat.
Now that you know that you'd like to lose some more belly fat (I know it's typical, but it makes for a better anecdote than paying off student loan debt) you should set some goals around it, right? There are two main modes of getting rid of belly fat, exercise and eating healthier. You know that Trader Joe's is going to come out with some more dank frozen food items, so hitting the gym more it is. How does three times per week sound?
Now that you have a goal in mind, you might tell your SO, social media, or your blog about it. Making your goals public is a great way to create extra incentive to stick with them. Everyone wishes you good luck, so long as you don't start doing curls in the squat rack.
New Year's resolutions... What bad are they?
These resolution things sound pretty good to me. Why all the flak?
One thing that I've learned through my 23 years of life is that your priorities change. A lot, and quickly. My current goals are way different from my goals at the beginning of the year, even since graduating college in May. Once a year for major lifestyle changes is too infrequent. Your priorities will change, and you could be stuck doing something you don't really care about anymore, assuming you stick with them in the first place. In fact, for most situations, radical lifestyle changes shouldn't even be a thing.
To effectively change your lifestyle, changes need to be small and build on each other. Someone who doesn't go to the gym probably won't magically become a gym person on January 1st. Even if they do start hitting the gym, statistics show that most resolutioners give it up pretty quickly. Instead of setting a hard goal like 'hit the gym three times per week', think about what the problem is and how small actions could help push you in the right direction. To lose belly fat, you do need to eat healthier and get more exercise, sure. Instead of creating resolutions around it, you could think of lowering your body fat percentage as a short-term goal and take small steps to get there. Maybe try replacing soda with La Croix for a week. Try packing lunch and only eating Trader Joe's frozen hatch chili mac and cheese once a month instead of once a week. Start thinking about the gym as something you could maybe do to fill up some of your free time. Make plans to go on a jog with your dog next Sunday. You should be experimenting with small things like these throughout the entire year, not deciding on one of them to do for the whole year. Some things will stick, some won't pan out. That's okay because next week there's something new to try.
Beating yourself up
Sometimes resolutions can even become a tool you use to beat yourself up with. Work starts to get crazy in January and you aren't going to the gym as often as you'd like to, and you feel bad about that. March comes around and you didn't even wear athleisure in February. Obviously, you aren't cut out for this whole working out thing. Maybe 2020 will be different. Resolutions give people an excuse to hold off on changing themselves for the better, and some people even start to feel bad about themselves because of some arbitrary, unrealistic metric they set for themselves. This isn't the way that goals should make you feel if you're genuinely interested in improving your wellbeing.
So resolutions are bad?
They can be. They work for some people, but even if they work, using the New Year as the only time that you set goals for yourself is a bad idea. Not all goals are created equal, however. In my mind, the types of goals they teach you in school: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound just do not work for setting individual one-year goals. Long-term goals should be about intent, with maybe a few SMART strategic goals throughout the year. What do you mean by intent? Make your goal based on an adjective.
My goals are:
Eat junk food smarter
I want to get into better shape, and junk food is my weakness. If I'm left alone I'm perfectly content with ordering two Dominos pizzas (because two or more are $5.99 each) and eating about four spoonfuls of peanut butter while waiting for them to arrive. I want to start thinking about buying healthier junk food and eating that instead. Grocery shopping for me at some point usually involves me staring at a box of Clif bars, wanting to buy them but knowing I shouldn't, so I don't. However, when that snacking urge hits all I have is peanut butter. Allowing myself to plan out and buy junk food before the urge hits might at least make the junk food I eat a little bit healthier. I'm comfortable making this sort of goal since it's such a small and infrequent thing.
Be more deliberate with how I spend my time
Apple released Screen Time for iOS devices earlier this year, and I love it. The first few weeks were pretty big shocks, seeing the weekly review say something like '2 hours 34 minutes per day, down 12% from last week'. First of all, that's a ton of time if you add it up to a week. Close to eighteen hours? And that's down from the week before? As the summer started to wind down I started to make some more optimistic personal development goals and started turning downtime into some of the most productive hours of the day. Those Screen Time notifications are closer to one hour per day now, and I'm pretty happy with that. I also don't want to cut out downtime, since it's important to do fun, 'unproductive' things that make you happy and keep you grounded. So I want to be more deliberate with my time. If I'm working on a project, I want to be working on a project. Not checking my phone every fifteen minutes. If I'm watching Netflix, I want to be watching Netflix. Not thinking about design decisions or what I have to test at work.
Mindfulness seems to be a big theme this year, so I also went ahead and bought myself a Headspace subscription.
After reading this, what are your resolutions?
Photo from CBS2 Idaho News