Consider these 3 things when making your resolutions.

Well, guys, it’s a new year.

Another year has come and gone, and I’m sure you’re all doing a lot of worthy reflecting: you’re probably looking back on achievements, feeling thankful for the good things, and feeling hopeful that the not-so-good things will get better.

It’s during this annual reflection that a lot of really valuable conclusions are made. You take a step back, look at your life, and strengthen your resolve to enact positive change. But the New Year is also a time when a lot of really invaluable conclusions are made—though these kinds of conclusions can be much harder to see. Reflecting can be overdone. It can also be done in a way that becomes negative.

When people think about resolutions, they tend to think about things they can do better. This could be really great! I mean, who doesn’t want to improve? Life is a constant tumult of learned improvement, a slow and hefty upward climb through to the end. Learning how and trying to do better is the only real constant life has to offer.

But I’d be willing to bet this sounds familiar to you, too:

This year, I didn’t do ________.

This year, I sucked at _________.

Wow, I really fell through on my resolution from last year.

We beat ourselves up for the things we wish we’d done. We imbibe a sense of lacking to our concepts of ourselves and insert disappointment where there formerly was none. We look at the past year and find the loopholes in our accomplishments, the blemishes on our timelines, the mix-ups, the mistakes, and the blotches of failure on an otherwise dazzling portrait of a year.

Then, we hone in on them. The bad things become our conception of the entire year instead, and we forget to give ourselves credit for the things we did do well.

This, unfortunately, is especially true with regards to fitness and body image. Physical fitness is a great aspiration; but it can also be a slippery slope. It’s easy to get caught up in the mentality that nothing is ever enough, that you always could have done more: eaten “better”, done more pushups, ran an extra mile on the treadmill.

That kind of slope? It can be really dangerous. And it often enacts itself in our New Year’s resolutions. How many times have you heard someone make a resolution about his or her weight? How many times have you heard someone crack a joke or make a passing remark about his or her failure at the last year’s weight loss-centered goal?

Saying these things is not only dangerous for yourself, but it can affect those around you. It seeps into our culture and creates a festering wound of bitter comparison and self-criticism.

Let’s keep it #noregrets, am I right?

So, when you’re making your New Year’s resolution this year, I challenge you to take a step back and do a good and honest search for these three harmful aspects of New Year’s resolution goals.

1) Making absolutes

These are the all-or-nothing goals, the ones that set rigid rules on our lives and set an impossibly high standard. In reality, these are just set-ups for feelings of failure. This can look innocent, like: I’m going to go to the gym five times a week! or I’m going to get straight A’s! Yeah, that’d be nice, but here’s the thing: life happens. It gets in the way and you need to make room for the other things that matter, too. You might have a really crazy week and not make it to the gym 5 times, and that’s ok. It doesn’t mean that you failed at your goal (at least not if you absolve the absolute). 🙂 

2) Negatively comparing yourself to others

These are the “I’m going to do better than last year” goals. Not only are they extremely non-specific and totally subjective (who’s to decide what constitutes “better than last year”, anyway?) but they also paint a negative view on yourself from the year prior. No good. Not productive, and also not good for your self-esteem or self-image. Why bring yourself down? Keep your goals positive, and you’ll give them the power to do positive things. Negativity breeds negativity: stay looking up.

3) Setting overly high expectations

But not too far up! These are the goals that are way too far-reaching to ever really be accomplished while maintaining a sense of balance. For example, I’m going to read 100 books, even though last year I read 5! or I’m going to lift 400 pounds by next month! Again, sure that’d be cool. But you’re really setting yourself up for failure by setting the bar too high. If you read 10 books, that’d still be an accomplishment: you don’t need to be logic-defyingly amazing to still be amazing. You can do well at something without doing the best.

So…now that we’ve cleansed ourselves of the bad: what does a positive goal look like?

I think it totally depends on the individual. For me, I’m trying to make my goals for this year mindset-based. Instead of making up some steadfast rule or creating an accomplishment-based external goal, I’m going to try and set internal goals that are much more flexible. 

For instance, I want to enter the new semester while maintaining an open mind. That’s going to be hard for me, since I love conjuring expectations and standards for myself for the future. However, I think that adding a little wiggle room will be good for me. After all, it’s impossible to know what lies ahead in the coming months, anyway.

Well, fit readers, thanks for listening. I’m sure you’re all headed towards a wonderful 2016 just stuffed full of accomplishments and if you need some more guidance, check out our 5-step plan to actually keep your resolutions. And now:

Check out these articles too:

Why You Should Set Non-Fitness Resolutions Too
New Years Resolutions: A New Perspective
How To Actually Keep Your New Years Resolutions
Food Trends To Get You Excited for 2017

About The Author

Holly is a senior at Northeastern University from Boca Raton, FL, where she is a double major in English and Mathematics. She loves books, math, and all things nerdy, as well as fitness. Holly is a group fitness instructor at her school's gym and at BURN Fitness Studios. Her favorite classes right now focus on HIIT training and cardio boxing.

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