For the past couple of years, I’ve been telling my friends and family that my New Year’s resolution is not to make one. Because of this, I’ve beaten pretty much everyone at keeping up resolutions, and I think this approach to life is one that many people could benefit from.
For most of my life, I tried to make changes with grand resolution-style approaches. While I constantly made declarations like “I am going to go to the gym four days a week starting today,” or “Starting right now, I am going to cut out all desserts and finally lose the weight,” and the like, I never found success with this method of making changes in my life.
I would eventually fall off the wagon one day and consider the whole attempt a failure. Missing one day at the gym or eating one unhealthy food would make me feel as if I had lost any progress that I had made towards a healthier lifestyle, and since I viewed resuming a failed resolution as starting from scratch, I would simply give up on the whole endeavour.
Feeling like this in the past has led me to reconsider the resolution approach to making life changes altogether. At first, I just gave up on trying to make changes entirely, but after a while, I developed a different approach that made things much easier on me. For the first time, I allowed myself to be okay with not following these healthy practices all the time.
On the surface, this approach can seem like either a no-brainer or an unproductive way of going about becoming healthier. Not stressing out about your health may come naturally to some, but it certainly did not for me, and while some people may thrive off putting pressure on themselves to succeed, I find that I accomplish more when I allow myself to make mistakes and treat myself much more gently.
Bringing all of this back to New Year’s resolutions, I think many people could benefit from giving up the practice. There’s a reason why people make memes about the gym being busy in January, and then all of the new recruits falling off: holding oneself to an impossible standard just doesn’t work for most — if not all — people.
However, I am not saying that everybody should just forgo trying to be healthy. I still set goals for myself and try to be healthy, but I’ve found that it’s much easier to pick myself up after some unhealthy choices when a mistake just means a bump in the road, rather than feeling like I’ve fucked up the whole year.
These musings have led me to question why so many people put themselves through the stress of resolutions each year. Of course, there are always going to be success stories and people who achieve real change in their lives by waking up one day and deciding it will be so — but I will never be one of those people, and I’m okay with that. I prefer to think of my health and my life as being in a flowing state of change — rather than existing on a concrete timeline, where failing once means that I’ve lost my streak and have to start all over again. That’s why, for this year of 2018, I will suggest only one resolution that you might like to take on: just go easy on yourself and know that, if you keep trying, you’ll make something happen eventually.
Jack Thompson / Sports & Health Editor
Graphic: Jaymie Stachyruk