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Gently Embracing a New Year

If you thrive off resolutions and January efforts to build better habits in your life, I see you. If you feel a tug to embrace the slowness that naturally comes with winter, I see you, too. There is absolutely zero pressure to make dramatic changes to your life in January, especially at a time when we may benefit from slowness along with the rest of the animal kingdom. You may consider springtime for changing habits and setting goals; a time of revival and renewal might better suit these efforts. Let’s discuss a couple reasons goals fail so that if and when you decide to make changes, you’re better prepared to be successful. 

Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi/Courtesy of Unsplash

I’m sure it’s no surprise that a whopping 92% of New Year’s Resolutions taper off and people return to their unwanted habits by March. I am interested in why goals fail and the psychology behind how we might be setting ourselves up for potential failure. I believe that every effort we make to live a long-term healthier lifestyle is WORTH IT. Even if our goals end up changing, it’s all about the journey — I truly believe this — and there are always learning experiences along the way if we’re attuned to them by tracking our experiences through journaling. So even if something does end up “failing,” making the effort is a fantastic choice, and failure isn’t something that negates the initial intentions at all. With that said, knowing more about how to properly ignite those intentions so that we’re not overly focused on end results alone and engaging fully in the process itself are key. 

Finding Your Deeper WHY
Most goals are far too generic in nature and are not value-based to last long term. Think back to the commercials and ads we started seeing around November and December. Just as most of us geared up for holiday time (with changing schedules and yummy indulgences), Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, and gyms were touting their membership discounts and entry-level opportunities. They choose a perfect time to target the population when we’re feeling the most vulnerable and desperate to get back on track (or start for the first time). I’m never anti diet or exercise programs if they’re a piece of the larger wellness puzzle for someone’s long-term well-being, but it’s so easy to fall for the gimmick of a program after the holidays by setting superficial goals, such as losing holiday weight! or get ready for swimsuit season! (Self-Love Reminder: your body is always a swimsuit body!)

When a client or friend tells me something like “I want to lose weight and be a fit 50-year-old,” I’ll ask them why. I often get a confused look because surely being a fit 50-year-old is enough, but unfortunately, it’s not. That idea might excite us, but it is not enough to carry us through the many ups and downs of building those healthy habits. I ask them to elaborate and I encourage you to do the same for yourself. In essence, we are digging up the deeper “why.”

Maybe they want to be a fit 50-year-old to stay off pharmaceuticals that they otherwise would require if they keep up their unhealthy habits; maybe it’s because they want to be able to engage with their grandchildren in fun, physical ways. One client teared up and said she wanted to meet her great grandchildren one day and teach them about her family history before it’s lost. Now that is a deeper WHY, folks! This does not make her goals suddenly easily attainable, but that level of why is much more likely to motivate her longer so she can build those healthier habits. It’s a why tied to her deepest desires.

Photo by Estee Janssens/Courtesy of Unsplash

Your goals matter regardless of how deep or short-term they might be. I encourage you to ask yourself but why? until you find something closer to your inner most desires. Goal-setting should never revolve around punishment and we never have to “earn” our indulgences. It needs to come from the heart, or it won’t last. It’s easy to justify giving up on nutritious meals, for example, by saying “I don’t really care if I lose that 20 pounds anymore.” When it’s a deeper why like “I want to be around for my spouse so we can travel and explore the world together,” it’s more likely to stick around and evolve as you do.

Next time we’ll discuss the second reason goals often fail, centered around neural pathways and replacing negatives with positives. Until then, keep digging deep, embracing self-love and a consistent gratitude practice regardless of the season!

Header photo by Sebastian Mantel/Courtesy of Unsplash

Mental health and wellness are Kayla Fanning’s passions, and she strongly believes our environment and culture play the largest role in holistic well-being. She helps organizations and humans build happier, healthier lives so they can thrive and not just survive. Nature is where she resets and finds balance.

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