Gregorian Calendars Are Stupid
Most resolutions don’t last more than a couple of months. A good rule for life is to stop making rules, especially ones that don’t work. Here are 5 reasons your resolutions won’t work and 5 practices that actually might.
1. I Resolve to Be Miserable.
If your resolution is to stop eating sugar or watching TV you’ll probably have a hard time. You’re basically resolving to not do things you enjoy. You can’t get anywhere by rejecting who you are. Instead you need to learn to honor and then co-opt these parts of yourself.
MindFitMove Practice: Instead of asking yourself to reject parts of yourself find a way to embrace other parts of yourself. Try to do more of what you love, especially if it’s something that leads to more balance.
If you love cycling, then try to cycle once a week for a month. If you love making fresh kale, then make a new kale dish every week for a month. Seeking misery leads to misery. Instead, seek the joys that lead to a mindful and balanced life.
2. It’s A Can’t Do Attitude
In the world of non-violent communication requests should be clear, doable, and on a reasonable time scale. If you couldn’t ask your partner or friend to promise it, then don’t resolve it.
“Sweetie would you be willing to stop eating sugary snacks?” This is not a doable request. It’s unclear what a sugary snack might be and how long the promise is being made for.
Try this instead, “Sweetie, for the next month, would you be willing to have a piece of fruit instead of ice cream after dinner?” In the second example the request is clear, doable, and on a reasonable timetable.
MindFitMove Practice: Take one ‘resolution’ and turn it into a doable request with a reasonable time scale. Remember that a reasonable time scale is different for everyone. If you are quitting smoking it may be one day, if it’s taking a new class it may be one month. Experiment and find what works for you.
3. Getting To No!
Adults rely too heavily on NO! It’s the first word many children learn, because it’s the word they hear most often. When I was a preschool teacher I learned that saying NO! to kids doesn’t work very well. Instead we always tried to find something we could say YES! to.
MindFitMove Practice: Instead of setting a strict rule that says NO! NO! NO! find one that says YES! Instead of saying no to snacking, say yes to snacking on more veggies and fruit. If you eat a piece of fruit half way between each meal, you will likely eat less sugary snacks and fruit has quite a bit of healthy sugar in it.
4. No Reflection? Maybe You’re A Vampire
Many people make resolutions without asking 2 important questions:
1. What will I get/be if I maintain this practice?
2. What will I have to give up to make this practice work?
Making changes is hard, but often resolutions are made in the spur of the moment or without much planning. People don’t take the time to consider what it takes to transform their life. Instead of making short hand resolutions, make plans for life long transformation.
MindFitMove Practice: Instead of making a resolutions, set aside some time to write down 3 things you’d like to do this year. Agree to sit down and write down these goals and answer the 2 questions above. Then decide if the answer to the first question is worth the answer to the second. If it is, remind yourself of this often. If it isn’t, pick some new goals you are prepared to do.
5. The Transformation Will Not Be Scheduled
Like the title of this post indicates, the schedule for your transformation is not Gregorian. Your transformation happens on your own schedule and pace. A better time to start might be February, June, Or September. The best time is the time when you do start with full awareness.
This isn’t an excuse to encourage you to procrastinate, but if this is a bad time or if you are already transforming then maybe something new won’t help.
Try and be honest with yourself. Maybe you feel more motivated to exercise when it’s warmer so start your workout program on the first day of spring. Maybe you are exhausted from visiting family; give yourself a few weeks to rest before you take on a new challenge.
MindFitMove Practice: Cycles are important to reflect on your progress, but they aren’t always your best guides. The key to life long transformation is mindfulness and awareness. Use these tools to asses what is a reasonable and doable for you. No matter what you decide, focus on being mindful. If you decide not to change your eating habits, notice what that’s like. If you decide to change the way you eat, notice what that’s like.
My goal is to support people walking the path of transformation. These 5 practices will help you get started, but transformation takes time and practice.
If you are ready to take the next step, there are 2 easy ones to take
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1. Free – A Zen Buddhist Guide to Fitness – upon Signing Up
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