By Molly Lizzio, MA, LPMFT
By this time of the year, many of us have already set and promptly given up on our New Year’s Resolutions. It’s an ongoing joke with one of my best friends that every year her resolution is to “tone up.” She makes promises to herself about working out and getting fit.
Luckily this woman has a remarkable sense of self-worth, because every year the resolution falls by the wayside, and she’s never really hard on herself about it. Though she’s great, my friend is a bit of an anomaly.
Most people don’t even bother with resolutions because they feel resolutions are designed to fail; and part of me agrees with this sentiment.
People tend to set too much store by a resolution, and any results gained can’t possibly live up to the expectations set forth.
Although people want to change, they don’t want it more than they want to be comfortable. Yes, you want to lose weight, but not more than you want the dessert tray. You want to quit smoking, but not as much as you want a cigarette.
When people finally make a big change in their lives, I hear them say, “It was just time to do it.” I’m sure this will be the case with my good friend “the toner.”
One fine spring day, she’ll just decide to finally get in shape – most likely it will be after her long time boyfriend has finally proposed and they are knee-deep in wedding planning. And isn’t that just the point?
We finally change when we’re ready to, not necessarily when the calendar changes over.
This isn’t to say that I’m not a big supporter of self-improvement goals; and in fact, I’m the queen of them. I always have some project going on, whether losing weight, saving money, or actually cooking the recipes I pin on Pinterest.
I like to have something I’m working on. But I do this every month, all year long. I’ve taken a page out of my friend’s book; and when I’m not too hard on myself, I’ve learned that keeping up with goals is a lot easier. Say I haven’t written in my gratitude journal for three weeks? No problem. I can start again today.
I’m never afraid to fail at one of my goals because I know it isn’t permanent.
This is where I think people may go wrong. They get down on themselves for not being a changed person by March, so the goal gets forgotten.
This time of year forces us to remember that we’re not perfect, and we’re only human. We’ll make promises and break them, at times we’ll try and fail, we’ll feel motivated one minute and defeated the next.
It’s a very fluid continuum and we’re constantly shifting, which makes sense to match the rhythm and flow of life.
Self-improvement can be wonderful and has a place in our world, but we get so caught up in changing things about ourselves that we forget about the things that demand to be accepted.
Imagine how much better off we’d be if we focused on what’s already wonderful about ourselves, and made friends with some of our shortcomings.
It seems like a much happier place to start. What we put into our lives usually multiplies and grows.
So ask yourself what you want to fuel you: love or fear.
Maybe the anti-resolution would be to not overtly change anything about yourself; and instead choose to love and accept yourself exactly as you are now.
Knowing that change will come and go like the weather – often uninvited, unexpected, and impervious to your schedule.
You will set many goals and even accomplish a few. You will be better than you were the day before, because of the love you have for yourself, not despite it.
For more information, contact Molly Lizzio, MA, LPMFT of Harvest House Marriage and Family Therapy at: www.harvesthousecounseling.com.