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#NewYearSameMe, Just Different Kinder Intentions

In conversation with...

Harriet & Jana

Hasn’t this year just flown by! And here we are back at that time of year where we all start thinking about 2022, #newyearnewme. We all start promising ourselves we’ll start diets and exercise classes in January, and once again the stresses of New Year's resolutions have resurfaced.

We start frantically checking to see if we’ve curbed that finger-nail-biting habit we promised to stop last January, or if we’ve succeeded to stick to the “just Friday nights” for takeaways, but realising that Uber Eats is still a favourite app might make us feel a little deflated and ashamed. (Which firstly it shouldn’t so stop yourself right there - takeaways are GREAT!).

But this got us thinking about why we even make resolutions in the first place and what do they really achieve?

Harriet: The only new year's resolution I’ve ever stuck to is stopping biting my nails, and that took me promising myself I would *every January for about 12 years* before it actually happened. Well, kind of. But it’s only when I’m stressed now. That counts right?

Every year we start off by telling ourselves “this is the year we’re going to succeed and conquer all our resolutions”. But aren’t we really setting ourselves up for failure? How can we complete a resolution that we have no heart in achieving? If we set unrealistic goals for ourselves, how can we then justify beating ourselves up over not achieving them?

How can we complete a resolution that we have no heart in achieving?

If we take a step back and look at our failed resolutions, nine times out of ten they’re not actually our resolutions, are they? They’re the resolutions we deem right by the eyes of society.

Stop biting my nails.

Go to the gym.

Eat less junk.

Start getting up early to exercise.

Stop watching so much telly.

Stop snacking.

There seems to be a trend with these New Year’s Resolutions. They’re all one’s for habits we are ashamed of. Are we eating too much of the wrong thing? Are we seen as lazy? Do we not meet the standards set by us by the media and society? The answers should be no.

No, no no. Absolutely not.

Jana: I think the point of really looking at the New Year's resolutions we make is quite important; I've never really thought about it like this before. Like going to the gym more for example. It’s a classic one. And there is nothing, in my eyes, pleasurable about the gym, let alone a gym in January.

I think something I have learnt is not to set hard boundaries with resolutions. I think when I was in my second year of uni, I made a resolution like “go to the gym 3 or 4 times a week”. Which for me was crazy unrealistic and I think I went twice a month or something like that, which was more than I had been before, but it wasn't anywhere near how often I had wanted to go. I think quantifying New Year's resolutions, like saying “I will not do something” or “I will do activity A this many times a week”, or “I'll have one cube of chocolate a night” creates hard boundaries which are hard to get out of. I think when you have these hard boundaries there's no room for leeway and so when we don't achieve what we set out to, it makes it very easy for us to criticize ourselves because you can really pinpoint where you’ve “gone wrong”.

I think when you have these hard boundaries there's no room for leeway and so when we don't achieve what we set out to, it makes it very easy for us to criticize ourselves

Harriet: Yes, same for me! For example, I would like to become more active and get back into shape. But I know I have no intention of joining a gym because the idea of it bores the hell out of me! So instead, I've been looking at exercise classes, and I've decided to start Zumba again! This is something that excites me, so I'm going to be a lot more motivated to actually do it than if I promise myself I'm going to take up running (lol what a joke). We can't keep setting ourselves up for failure!

Jana: Completely (also Zumba! So FUN). I find I really enjoy making intentions instead. I make them a bit more ambiguous and a little bit more vague and that way it's harder to kick yourself for not achieving exactly what you wanted because there was never anything exact to achieve in the first place! This definitely works better for me, and I think it means that when I do something for me as per an intention, I feel really good about it as it is less of a chore. Some intentions I have thought of recently for example…“I would like to be braver” and “I would like to get better at putting myself first and valuing my me-time more; i.e. it’s ok to say no to plans” (even if we have spent two years in and out of lockdowns).

I completely agree here! Figuring out a goal and a realistic way of achieving it is so much more rewarding than worrying and overworking to try and achieve unrealistic goals that are going to make us feel crappy! Maybe we need to tailor our resolutions and intentions to suit us, instead of trying to all squash ourselves into the same box!

Whether you make New Year's resolutions or intentions, whichever you choose, they should be a fun way of setting yourself some personal growth goals, so, be kind to yourself and why not take the pressure off?


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