According to Forbes, 80% of New Year's resolutions fail every year. Of that 80%, 65% will fail by February. This is a rather dim point of view to have as we find ourselves in the middle of the second month of the year. I find myself wondering what it is about entering a new year that makes us so obsessed with creating a totally new and ‘better’ version of ourselves. However, what is it that makes us give up on these set-in-stone resolutions so easily? You see, I was a big supporter of a fresh start. No matter how hard the previous year was, come mid-December, I would start convincing myself that all I truly need to get my entire life together is that brand new ‘My Journey Starts Here’ journal. I promised myself this one won’t end up collecting dust on the shelf like the past fifty two books that I’ve bought. I’ll start showering every day and actually hanging my clothes up instead of letting my floor turn into a second wardrobe. To top it all off, of course, I would start going to the gym at least three times a week. I mean, I’m paying for a gym membership, so surely that’s enough incentive, right?
No matter how hard I try, I have always turned into the 65% whose resolutions peter out by February. I slowly let go of one resolution, then another, then another until my life is very much the same as it always was. I then make the obvious decision to not start any new healthy habits until next January rolls around - obviously the only time of year that one can create a brand new version of themselves. I fell so easily in love with the concept of new year, new me. But as I reach February 2023, I believe my perspective is slowly changing.
This January has turned out to be one of the least productive of my life. I attribute this to the fact that I made not a single new years resolution this year. You heard me right, not one. It was as if a switch finally flipped in my brain and I realised the reason my resolutions, certain as they were, always failed. You see, they always stemmed from a place of self-hatred. I would look at my life through a microscopically critical lens and pick out every tiny detail I wanted to change. Whether that be my lifestyle, my hobbies, my body or my friendships, my resolutions always came from a place of dissatisfaction.
The world won’t agree with this, but from years of trying, I can promise you that you cannot hate yourself into a version of yourself that you love. It’s simply not possible. That is what I was trying to do, and hard as I tried I always failed. My dissatisfaction did not fuel me enough to stick to new habits when life got hard or I got tired. The other reason I have always found myself part of the 65% is because my resolutions have never been realistic. It should’ve been obvious really, but in case you find yourself in the same boat as me, let me explain. If you have never journaled in your life it is unrealistic to believe that you are now going to write down your deepest thoughts and emotions every day for the entire year. Similarly, if you are in a place where you cannot find the motivation to shower even once a week, telling yourself you are now going to shower at the beginning and end of every day probably won’t be helpful. You, like me, will overwhelm yourself and be disappointed that you weren’t able to fulfil your original goal. The cycle of critical self-thinking will continue and by the end of month one, you will have given up on the goal completely.
So, how does one make positive changes in their lives if resolutions (whether they be a new year, new month or even new day) seem so prone to failure? Well, first let me remind you of three truths to keep in mind when creating a new habit.
- You are worthy of love exactly as you are
- Failure doesn’t have to mean starting again
- New habits take time
You may have noticed that I switched my wording from resolution to habit. Resolution is something so firmly set in stone, it is a promise you make to yourself that is unable to be broken, in our minds if we do not stick to it all the time, we are failures to our very core. We might as well give up completely. Habit, on the other hand, is something that we build over time. Similar to the word habitat, our habits are the homes we make for ourselves to live in. Making a home takes time, it is a continuous process. As we grow, sometimes our homes need renovations, some new windows or carpets or maybe an entire extra room to be built. The same can be said for creating new habits. Your realisation that something in your life needs to change doesn’t make you a failure, it actually means you are growing and that is a beautiful thing.
So this year, as we near the end of February, don’t be afraid to implement some new habits in your life slowly. Look at the home you are building for yourself and take on one new project at a time. Give yourself grace and you’ll be amazed at the person you start to become.
Voices of Hope wants you to know that you do not have to do this alone. Click here to ‘find help’ - it’s not weak to speak!