This post was published on New Year’s Day in 2012 on the UI Women’s Center’s Blog.
By definition, to resolve is to make a firm decision to do (or not to do) something. New Year’s resolutions abound: quit smoking, get organized, embrace health and fitness, live a more balanced life, save money, learn how to (fill in the blank)… Sound familiar? And, there are many resources out there to help you make the resolutions and then help you stick with them… In general, there’s tremendous pressure out there to resolve to do something. How many of us clicked on Facebook in the past day or so and saw how many people are stating publically what they resolve to do in 2012. Now instead of just our close friends and family, we have the whole social media world out there to hold us accountable for our resolutions.
But, as the title of this post indicates. I don’t believe in them. How many of us have stated our resolutions, but as January becomes March and then November, they have faded, not the priorities they once were? What makes us want to make a firm decision one day and then allow that to resoluteness to erode? I believe this is because of the finality and rigidity the word “resolution” connotes. Make a resolution today and then spend the rest of the year beating ourselves up for not fulfilling our own expectations. Let’s get real. Resolutions don’t allow for challenges in our lives that might interfere; resolutions aren’t flexible and sometimes simply aren’t realistic given changing circumstances.
So, I resolve not to make resolutions. Instead, I advocate for making choices. Reframing resolutions as choices allows for flexibility and alternatives. I choose to sleep in an extra hour instead of getting up and going to the gym because I need to recoup some lost sleep. Versus: I must get out of bed at 5 a.m. because I made this resolution and it’s now hanging over my head that I haven’t worked out all week (subtext: now, I feel so lazy/worthless). Making peace with our choices and giving ourselves flexibility may just improve our general outlook on life and how we feel about ourselves.
Perhaps making resolutions is more about control. When we feel things are too far beyond our control, we set up systems to hold ourselves accountable to some goal/to-do list/resolution in attempt to control what we can in life. Those who work with me know I’m fond of saying, “we can’t always control situations/others/reality, but we can control how we choose to respond.” Knowing that we have some say in the situation, even those beyond our control, in choosing our own response, state of mind, reality is what brings peace.
So, for 2012, consider ditching New Year’s resolutions. Allow for flexibility and alternatives in our goal setting. Be adaptable and willing to explore possibilities in alternative solutions as the inevitable challenges of life intervene. Remember, we have choice.