I don’t know about you, but I am terrible at sticking to my New Year’s Resolutions. Disastrous. Last year, I resolved to go on a diet, and diet I did.
For two weeks.
As a result, I lost half a stone… And gained 10lbs immediately after.
It took me ’til the end of February to remember the whole lifestyle change thing, and actually get on with it – and since then, I’ve lost 70lbs. Not too shabby, you might think – but absolutely diddly squat to do with my resolution on January 1st.
Or rather, January 2nd. I – like a lot of people – was far too hungover to diet on January 1st. Much like yesterday, as it happens.
I think the trouble with New Year’s Resolutions is that for most of us, there’s a kind of inevitability to the fact that you’ll fail somewhere around the same time as everyone else. We’re all in it together, for the first couple of weeks – and then, mid-January rolls around, “Blue Monday” hits, someone brings the first cakes of the year into the office… And we all fall down.
That’s why – despite having the meal plan almost finished, and despite being very much ready for a detox after weeks of Mum’s home cooking, bubbly, advent calendars and selection boxes – I’m going to suggest you don’t resolve to start a diet in 2013.
Nope. Instead, I think there are other, more subtle changes that you can make over the coming months that will improve your life – and your chances of success.
Starting the new year by making a conscious decision to be kind to the people around you seems to me a pretty good place to start. I think if we all made the decision to be better friends, better family, and better total strangers, we’d all be a lot happier. That said, world peace isn’t really what I’m getting at here… Mostly because I’m saving that for my Miss Universe speech.
What I’m actually talking about, though, is the ability to be kind to yourself. Chances are, you’re busy enough dealing with all the other things life throws at you without having to dedicate valuable hours to beating yourself up – so making the conscious decision to be kind to yourself will alleviate that, rather than making things more difficult.
This sort of kindness is something you can offer yourself on an emotional and physical level. Giving your body the right foods, the right amount of exercise, and time to recover from your workouts, will do wonders for you physically – and looking at your positive points in the mirror, rather than just focusing on the negative, will set you on the path to all-round wellbeing.
When you’re kind to yourself, you’re more likely to be happier, and more fulfilled. And when you’re happier and more fulfilled, you’re probably too busy doing nice things to stomp around being mean to other people. You see how this works – eventually, your acts of kindness right there at home will make a difference to the people you meet… And Bob is your proverbial uncle. Everyone’s happy.
Or, rather, have courage. If you’ve ever struggled with the way you look, chances are that’s left a bit of a dent in your self-confidence. God knows, that stuff can spiral. In a perfect world, we’d all be able to be happy with ourselves regardless of our size, our shape, our skin colour or any of those other trivial external things – but alas, instead we live in a world where we’re actively judged on our appearance. That sucks, and it makes me mad. You know this.
But someone said to me once that the etymology of ‘courage’ is from the Latin word for ‘heart,’ and I think that’s a really important thing to remember. And that’s where bravery and kindness, it seems to me, are linked. Being kind will make you happy, and we all know that when you’re happy, you get that slightly gooey feeling that comes right from the heart.
Seems to me that’ll work pretty well alongside the whole courage thing.
And let’s face it: being kind to yourself, and forgiving yourself for the things that aren’t perfect – that takes courage, in a world where the odds are stacked right up against you and your own self-worth. It also takes some strength, and a sprinkling of compassion for other people who are up against the very same things.
Get that sussed, and chances are all the other things you encounter – and I say this as someone who’s just agreed to move to a new city and start a new job – won’t seem quite so terrifying. That’ll give you the strength to make the most of every single day, rather than just setting resolutions in January that you’ll resent by March.
Yep. I said LOL.
That resentment thing that happens with New Years Resolutions really gets my goat, because it’s the same schtick that the diet industry relies on to make you fat and miserable, so you keep buying their products. Personally, I’d much rather live a life where it’s not perfect – anything but, in fact – but it’s funny. I fail, and I fail often – but I don’t mind, because it gives me the chance to laugh at myself. And that’s a really, really good thing.
Not taking yourself too seriously, especially when you slip up, will help you to keep calm and carry on with the lifestyle change you want to make. And because you’re able to make mistakes, and fail, but keep on going, you’ll feel stronger, and more able to deal with whatever life throws at you… Because you’ve got that courage thing nailed.
I love it when a plan comes together.
Happy New Year everyone – and good luck with whatever you’re aiming to do!