How to Make New Year’s Resolutions that Will Last
by: Ashley Willis
If you’re anything like me, you love the feeling of a fresh start and setting new goals. January is a popular time for this with New Year’s resolutions on our minds and in our sights. The gyms are bursting at the seams. The health food stores have empty shelves. Married couples have a renewed sense of devotion, and church attendance is at an all-time high. We’re a bunch of go-getters shooting for the stars. Then, February rolls around, and swarms of us start dropping like flies and going back to the same old habits. Sound familiar? I’ve been there too many times to count.
So, why do we do this?
I think it has a lot to do with “ALL” and “NOTHING.” These two attitudes creep into my mind and make me either ultra-committed to something or completely apathetic about it. This “all-or-nothing” mentality is toxic and paralyzing, and it sets us up to fail.
I’ve had enough of this. I’m done with all-or-nothing thoughts and behaviors. I don’t want my body, relationships, or my faith to look like a sloppy ping pong match.
So, how do we fight against the all-or-nothing beast? How can we be ALL IN and WIN and make lasting New Year’s resolutions with our spouse this year? We must remember these four important truths:
1. Perfection Can’t be the Goal
If perfection is my goal, then I will fail every time. I’m human. Therefore, I’m going to falter here and there. When it comes to my health, I’m going to indulge in some chocolate every now and then. It doesn’t mean I need to eat the whole box or give up exercise and become a couch potato.
If I want to improve my marriage, I must realize that my husband and I are imperfect people who get moody and impatient from time to time. We aren’t going to be perfect, ever. So, let’s not expect perfection from ourselves or anyone else, or we will always be disillusioned and disappointed. When we realize this, it takes the pressure off and keeps the ever-toxic all-or-nothing mentality at bay.
2. Progress is Both the Path and the Destination
When we’re making “progress,” we’re moving forward, getting better, and inching closer to our goal. However, in my own life, I’ve often failed to see that progress itself is also a pretty fantastic goal or destination.
Whenever I set a goal and meet it, I eventually get bored and lose sight of it. Why is this? It’s because I placed my focus solely on the goal and not the progress I was making. When we meet a goal, we need to set another goal, …and then another one…and another one. We stay on the path of progress by continually making goals and aiming higher. We get closer to progress itself–our target– with each goal we meet and new objective we set for ourselves and our relationships.
3. Mistakes Don’t Have to Become Bad Habits
I’ve learned this one the hard way, especially when it comes to my health. I’ve lost and gained twenty pounds four times in the past five years. I’ve been the epitome of a “yo-yo dieter.” I’ve been an aerobics instructor and a Weight Watchers leader. But, I’ve also been an out-of-shape mom who is content to wear workout clothes without stepping foot in the gym that day.
This yo-yo behavior became my norm only because I would let one mistake turn into a bad habit. I would eat too much popcorn and chocolate one night and end up doing the same thing night after night until it was all I craved. Eventually, all my healthy foods would go stale in my pantry. I should have allowed myself one night a week to indulge and eat mainly healthier foods all the other nights. Moderation is a GOOD thing. Just because I can’t be perfect doesn’t mean that I should give up.
The same rule applies to our relationships. If we want to see improvement, we can’t let mistakes turn into bad habits. We must address what we’ve done wrong directly and take steps to make amends and strengthen our relationship.
4. Accountability is a Must
A good friend will always tell us the truth and hold us accountable, especially when we ask them to. My husband is always my main accountability partner, even when it comes to exercising and eating right. He’s been my gym partner and my encourager no matter what.
We need accountability when it comes to our marriages too. If we’re trying to improve the communication in our marriage, we can ask a trusted, married friend of our same gender to be our accountability partner and talk through some of the snags we are experiencing in our partner. We need to make sure this is someone who is FOR us and our marriage and has some wisdom on the subject.
We must know when to ask for help and follow through with it. Why go it alone when we don’t have to? A trusted accountability partner is a tremendous blessing.
These four shifts in my approach have helped me to push my all-or-nothing tendencies to the side, and I see progress! I hope they help you as well and make this year your best one yet!