New Year's Resolutions

I make the least psychologist-y resolutions. Most articles you’ll read about resolutions talk about building habits and setting S.M.A.R.T. goals that are small, measurable, and achievable. Goals like “work out three times a week” or “spend 20 minutes a day playing with the kids.” These are great, and if these work for you, do it. More power to you.  

(Knowing what works and doesn’t work for you is always the most important thing. Nothing works for everyone, and few things work all the time.)

Last year my resolution was “have more fun” (which was desperately needed after years of grad school and training…). That’s pretty much the least scientific goal you could imagine, not measureable at all, completely vague, and not behavioral. It worked for me though. Did I have more fun in 2017? Without a doubt.

Having fun was something I valued but had been neglecting. I didn’t need to say: go to X number of events or spend Y number of hours with friends. For example, different resolutions might be, “become a kinder person,” “be more generous with love,” or “be healthier.” These are ways of talking about values and stepping into embodying that value in greater and greater ways throughout the year. For some people and for some resolutions, identifying the value and then trying to keep it in mind can be more helpful and effective than concrete, measureable behaviors. What do you value but have been neglecting?

If you are in the habit of feeling like you are never enough, like you will never be good enough or like you are always falling short, this might be a good exercise.

Resolutions don’t have to be a time to bring to life your inner masochist, rigidly holding yourself to arbitrary marks or finding new and creative ways to fail yourself. Identifying values and setting them as resolutions, like “have more fun,” involves the opposite. It implies and ultimately involves allowing you to let yourself be enough.

I’m not saying it is a gimme by any means, but it is a practice in allowing yourself to set reasonable aspirations and then more fairly assess your progress. A lot of people tend to over or underestimate their success or failure. Don’t be that person who is perpetually striving. Allow yourself to stretch and be satisfied.

I’m suggesting a new horizon to help yourself grow. You are the only judge of whether you reached it or whether you lost sight of it.

Are there things I could have done in 2017 to have more fun? Certainly. It is also true and fair though that I sought out more fun and also appreciated fun more when it happened naturally.

Have fun and happy new year!

Side note: You don’t just have to wait for January 1st to set resolutions. You can resolve to live out your values any time, but it can be helpful to have a date to trigger you to check in with yourself on your progress for becoming better/healthier/more generous/a better friend, etc. Birthdays, anniversaries, or the first of each month can work …if that’s what works for you.