It’s January 20th. If you’re like the average person, you’ve given up on your New Year’s Resolutions and might be kicking yourself over the failure. In fact, according to the Today Show, you gave up at least three days ago (by January 17th). And that’s the “average!”
It’s so frustrating. You did it all right … maybe you even followed the advice of the NY Times: You were realistic. You made a plan. You gave yourself rewards for success. You even built a network of folks rooting for you.
If you let us, we’d like to give you a reprieve. A little forgiveness. And a free pass to pick up today where you let go a few days ago.
Because here’s the truth: Most people lose hope just 2-3 weeks into the new year and give up. (In fact, 2 out of 3 make resolutions and only 8 percent actually keep them!)
And you know what that 8 percent knows that you don’t?
It’s okay to slip up.
It’s okay to lose hope.
It’s okay to struggle.
It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
True story: In the past, Abby’s struggled with being an all or nothing kind of girl. She once messed up the first page of a new leather bound journal that she loved, so she set it aside and never used it again. As she’s had children, she’s
learned been forced to let that stuff go.
So that’s where she is with her resolutions. She doesn’t want to forget about all the things she was just so excited over, just because it hasn’t gone according to plan. Especially now, about 20 days in.
Because if you read the Bible, or study yoga, or consider most of individual human history, you’ll notice there’s a pattern … a 40-day pattern.
Think about it: The number 40 has been an important number through the ages. 40 days. 40 weeks. 40 years. It’s a period of testing or judgement …
It rained for 40 days when Noah built the ark. Christ was in the desert for 40 days. Women are pregnant 40 weeks. Forty is considered middle age. And there is this concept (which is big in some yoga circles) that if you want to change your life, you need to practice your new behavior for 40 days. But by day 20, we hit a wall … it gets “hard.” Making it over the 20 day hump and staying as committed the second half of your journey is even more important than starting strong.
Because if you can make it 40 days into the New Year with strong resolve, you’re almost guaranteed to change your life forever.
So if you’re struggling:
- Forgive yourself, but don’t give up. Abby casually wrote out a long list of resolutions on New Years Eve. She loves the fresh start and clean slate of a new year and the list was pretty ambitious. After a few days, she realized that of the twelve things she had resolved to do daily, she’d actually only done two. When discussing her “total failure” with my husband, he encouraged her to keep trucking along and not get hung up on not accomplishing every goal. Smart man. Celebrate the successes and let the mistakes fall by the wayside.
- Clean the cupboard (literally and figuratively). Like Abby, Jeanne had a list of changes she wanted to implement in the New Year (like having a more structured morning for homeschool). But here’s her issue … if the house isn’t clean or the laundry not done or the school room messy … the whole plan goes out the window. A clean cupboard (or whatever) makes everything seem possible.
- Set shorter goals (daily/weekly/monthly). Check out this article from a woman who challenged herself (and followed through) to an entire year with no processed foods. It was such an inspiring article, and my mind got spinning wondering if that was something I could ever pull off. The truth is, my family eats mostly unprocessed, but we have our little “cheats” here and there. My mind kept wandering back to that article, and I realized that by setting a monthly goal of no processed food, I could get my whole family on board. The shorter the goal, the more likely you’ll set yourself up for success.
- Re-evaluate your list. Looking back on your list, are they reasonable goals for the life you live? If you’re working 12-14 hour days with a long commute, is it reasonable to think you can make three meals a day from scratch 7 day a week? Probably not. But maybe one day a week you could spend a little extra time cooking and have some freezer meals ready for the crockpot? Be realistic about what fits into your life. Small changes are more likely to stick longterm, anyway. Remember that movie What About Bob? It’s all about “baby steps.” Next thing you know you’ll be shouting “I’m SAILING!” from the bow of a boat driving your therapist crazy.
- Give yourself a ‘d0-over’ every day of the week. About 14 years ago, Jeanne had a “weight problem” and found herself frustrated and angry about it. Now, the truth of the matter was, she was in a “wrong relationship,” in the “wrong job,” and making all sorts of “wrong decisions” just about every chance she could. So of course it showed up on her waistline … which just made her more depressed and angry and frustrated … which made it even harder to lose the weight. And every time she started a diet it was on a Monday. Until she went to Weight Watchers. And while I’ve learned so much about nutrition since those days and don’t necessarily advocate a lot of the food encouraged in that program, the one important lesson I learned in those days is this: Just start again right now. Your resolution was to give up sugar and you just ate two pieces of chocolate cake? Ooops. Not good. But don’t beat yourself up. Just stop eating. Don’t eat a third piece. And consider this is the new moment the beginning of your new resolve.
- Write It Down. Very few things keep you more conscious and committed as writing it down. Is your resolve to lose weight? Write down what you eat. Every bite. Seriously. It might even stop you from taking even two little M&Ms when they are offered. Maybe your resolve is to be more productive. Write down a game plan. Each day. That’s one of the habits of highly successful people, by the way. Having a “to do” list is often the best way to get it all done. Maybe you want to save more money. Even if it’s the extra change from your pockets each day. Put the money aside and write it down. Keep track. Before long you’ll notice that it’s a habit, it’s fun and it’s easy. Write down your goals for the Day. The Week. The Month. The year. And put it in your calendar.
There’s a yoga teacher from India named Yogi Bhajan who had it right: “Keep up and you’ll be kept up.”
Do you need more encouragement to keep up with 31 Days to Better Health and Wellness?
- Un-Plug the Bedroom from Crunchy Savings
- 8 Times to be Intentional about Praying from More Than Four Walls
- Easy Pilates Workouts at Home from Live Essentially
- Why You Shouldn’t Yell at Your Child and What To Do Instead from Live Essentially
- Favorite Weight Loss Tools from Whole Intentions
What are you doing to keep up with your resolutions?