{Resolutions Rooted in Joy} How to Make Lasting New Year’s Resolutions

res·o·lu·tion

[rez-uh-loo-shuh n]

noun

1. a formal expression of opinion or intention made, usually after voting, by a formal organization, a legislature, a club, or other group. Compare concurrent resolution, joint resolution.

2. a resolve or determination: to make a firm resolution to do something.

3. the act of resolving or determining upon an action or course of action, method, procedure, etc.

4. the mental state or quality of being resolved or resolute; firmness of purpose.

5. the act or process of resolving or separating into constituent or elementary parts.

(Source)

To make a resolution is to determine a course of action.

I think it’s safe to say that all New Year’s Resolutions are made with change in mind. I also think it’s safe to say that when setting resolutions, many of us don’t think honestly about WHY we want to make these changes.

What motivates you to make a certain resolution or set a certain goal to change yourself?

Why do you want this for yourself?

Your answer to this question will determine whether you’re able to keep those resolutions and reach your goals this year.

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When I was younger—starting in my pre-teen years, New Year’s Resolutions became very important to me. Every year on New Year’s Eve, I would write a detailed list of resolutions, seal it in an envelope and put it in my top dresser drawer.

The following December when it was time to open that envelope I never did. I was too scared of how disappointed I’d be in myself for not reaching any of my goals. I didn’t even want to remember what I’d set out to do that past year–the guilt was overwhelming.

Out of all of the New Year’s Resolutions I’ve ever made, I’ve only ever stuck with one of them. The rest faded from my mind by February each year.

The reason these goals faded so quickly is that they were made with external motivation as opposed to intrinsic or internal motivation. I wanted to change myself and my life because I thought I should instead of changing my life through loving the process of reaching my goals.

I made my resolutions without answering the WHY question. Because I never gave thought to “why” I wanted what I wanted, I always plodded toward my goal without any love for the process. In fact, with very little thought about the process of reaching the goal at all.  To me, goals were just words floating in the ether.

Lasting resolutions are rooted in taking joy in your course of action–contributing to your life rather than making a binding contract with yourself.

Taking joy in your course of action will naturally motivate you to follow your plan—maybe without even realizing that you’re following it.

Being intrinsically motivated means having your goals “supercharged by passion instead of inhibited by desperation or halted by self destructive behavior (Source).”

Working toward your goal because you love the steps you’re taking.

How do you find that joy? How do you figure out what you really want?

I think that deep down, you already know, but here are some things to think about:

  1. Think about what you want. Write it down. Do you want to cook more meals at home? Do you want to go to the gym more often? What do YOU want?
  2. Okay, now think about why you truly want what you want. Take a few minutes to be completely honest with yourself. Are your reasons internal (you miss going to the gym because you love the way you feel when you’re active)? Or are your reasons externally motivated (because you feel like you should get to the gym more often, or because going to the gym more is what you should do to lose weight)?
  3. You may have some internally motivated and some externally motivated reasons. If you have more internal motivations, then you’re on the right track—skip down to # 4. If you find that most of your reasons are externally motivated, go back to #1. When the external motivators outweigh the internal motivators, it’s an indication that you might not really want what you think you want. Go back to #1, take a deep breath and honestly ask yourself what you want. It may take some serious nurturing to figure out what you really want, buy you’ll get there, I promise.
  4. Now that your “why” is internally motivated, the steps to reach your goal will become clear. The steps will feel like effort, but not like work—more like play. This is the joy in the process. Follow your “whys” and you’ll know what to do.
  5. If your process starts to feel forced, or you start to lose motivation, go back to step one and reevaluate. Your goals will change as you change—it’s totally okay to revise them to suite your needs. Keeping the joy in the process is the most important thing.

If you’ve found what you want and you know why you want it, but you’re still having some trouble, consider some outside support. As a holistic nutrition counselor, helping your find and reach your goals is my job. I’d love to start a conversation with you about what you want for your health and your life and how to get it. Email me to get the conversation going or to just share where you are in this process.

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Lasting resolutions are about finding joy in your course of action. They are about adding to your life as opposed to changing your life.

What resolutions have you made this year? Feel free to share in the comments below.

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