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Down With Resolutions and Up With Goals

Hello, 2023!

The last few days my email and social media have been full of people talking about their new year resolutions.

I know resolutions can work well for many people, but I have an adverse reaction to the idea of setting them. To me, it feels like too much pressure. It's almost like I'm half teenager, half adult, and the moment I resolve to do something different, the teenager in me says "No way!" It may also feel too ambiguous to stick to the resolution, and I often find myself worrying that I'm not doing enough, or that I'm not making enough progress.

At its core, I appreciate the intention behind resolutions. Someone has evaluated something in their life and set the intention to change or grow, which I fully support. But resolutions feel too big for me. I'll guilt or shame myself into following them for a week or two, but eventually the guilt and shame become so overwhelming that I stop doing what I wanted to do.

from the film ‘down with love’

I've come to realize in recent years that goals work much better for me than resolutions. With goals, I can still assess where I am versus where I want to be, but calling it a goal prompts me to create measurable and actionable steps to make progress. It feels less sudden, like a gentler approach even if the change I want to achieve is significant. Plus, I get to break down my goal into smaller chunks, making it easier for me to track my progress, which is incredibly motivating. It helps me to stay on top of my progress and measure my success, allowing me to clearly see where I was, where I am now, and where I'm still headed.

Instead of trying to make big changes all at once, I'm now more focused on creating small, sustainable habits that I can stick to over time. I've found that this approach allows me to make progress without feeling overwhelmed or discouraged. I'm also more likely to set realistic expectations for myself and enjoy the process of reaching my goals. Plus, it's a great way to stay motivated and build up my self-confidence.

Down with love resolutions The root of all midnight blues Down with things That give you that well-known pain

I’m not trying to discourage anyone from setting resolutions, far from it. If that works for you then keep on keeping on! I’ve simply found that, for me, the best way to reach success is by calling it a goal, which encourages me to take small steps. I’m just sharing what’s worked for me, and I hope it will help others in achieving their own resolutions.

When I was brainstorming this post, the phrase “down with resolutions” came to mind, which immediately made me think of the song “Down With Love” (it was also the name of a movie staring Renée Zellweger and Ewan McGregor that came out in the early 2000’s, which was apparently a [not great] re-make of Doris Day and Rock Hudson’s “Pillow Talk”, one of my absolute favorite films of all time). The song then became an ear worm for no less than 2 days, and during that time I realized it was actually pretty appropriate, if you changed the lyrics to switch the word “love” to “resolutions”:

So, rather than making resolutions that may leave me feeling overwhelmed and discouraged, I’ve chosen to focus on setting goals. Goals that are realistic and achievable and that I can break down into smaller actionable steps that I can track and measure my progress. This allows me to stay motivated and build up my self-confidence as I work towards achieving my goals.

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