As I said recently, I love the fresh start that comes with a new calendar year. Perhaps the biggest reason is that I don’t make big resolutions anymore. Like most resolution-makers, I used to set the bar too high and then I’d feel like a failure when I didn’t meet it. Eventually I realized that the whole experience sucked some of the joy out of my life, so I stopped.
Now, when I want to make a change, I think in terms of making small changes instead of overhauling my life. Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, writes that habits “are the invisible architecture of daily life…. If we change our habits, we change our lives.”
If sweeping resolutions work for you, congratulations! But if you’re berating yourself right about now because your resolution for 2019 has already gone off track, let yourself off the hook. Remember that trick of talking to yourself the way you’d talk to a good friend? This is a good time to use it.
Then consider swapping out that resolution for evolution. Ask yourself, “What is one incremental, specific change I can make that will help me move toward that goal?” Here are a few examples.
- Eat healthier. I’ll eat carrots at lunch instead of chips on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
- Have a better relationship with my partner. I’ll say or text one affirming thing to my partner every day.
- Get out of my rut. Once a month, I’ll go to an art gallery/concert/lecture/sporting event that I’ve never gone to before.
- Take better care of myself. I’ll be in bed by 10:30 every night.
It helps if you pick just one thing to focus on. Once it has become habit, you can choose something new.
Don’t give up on making improvements in your life. Just try a more realistic and gentle approach and see what happens. Good luck and let us know how it goes!
Dr. Barb DePree, M.D., has been a gynecologist and women’s health provider for almost 30 years and a menopause care specialist for the past ten.