Saturday, January 7, 2012

Skip the resolutions

The first of the year brings an onslaught of posts about how to keep your resolutions, why to not make resolutions, making resolutions easier, there are no such things as resolutions, finding willpower, giving up and just eating a crapton of chocolate, etc.

I'm not big on resolutions, just as I'm not a big list-maker. I think that, just as with list-making, resolution-making is often done to lower anxiety. Rather than sitting there thinking "oh, no, the new year is here and I'm going to be the same old schlub!" you make a list of ways that you can change yourself. And, if you're like many people, you then get to watch yourself fail repeatedly.

Here's something to try. Rather than resolving to do a pile of things, make one simple choice to approach one thing that you're avoiding. Then, make that same choice the next day. Here's how it works: Say you're sitting at your desk. In front of you is a letter from your health insurance company, telling you that you have to do something time-consuming and irritating like fill out a form, or call someone, or some other mundane task. 2011 you would simply grimace and move on to something important like watching cat videos on the internet. 2012 you, though, sees it as the perfect opportunity. You feel the AVOID feeling. You do the APPROACH thing. You fill out the form. You resume watching cat videos while basking in the sweet, sweet feeling that you've taken care of your approach for the day.

Approaching can be tough, because avoidance is usually done to reduce fear in some way. It is uncomfortable to approach, and that's why we don't do. But, by getting in the habit one day at a time, rather than in the face of a giant, daunting list of resolutions, can go a long way toward helping you be the 2012 person you'd like to be.

Give it a try!


  1. Great idea! I'll try this on Monday. I'm a great avoider.

  2. As a trainer, I hate resolutions. It's another way of saying, "promise I do not plan to keep". Oy. What you talk about here is something that is very present for people looking to lose weight. They want to make some grand sweeping gesture, yet they fail to take the small steps to move forward. All you need to do is tackle one small thing at a time. Don't put it off. Just do it and move foward.

  3. Thanks for the comment, Clara. I agree - resolutions function mostly as anxiety-reducers and placeholders.

    Thanks for reading!

  4. I really love this post. I'm not big on resolutions either and the feeling you describe of having the satisfaction of getting something done for the day (hour, week, whatever) is something I can completely relate to.

  5. I've been going by this all week. I love it. Thanks! *hug*