We are in the season of setting New Year’s resolutions. It seems everyone is making a resolution to do something. To eat better/cleaner. To lose weight. To work out more, clear your skin, find a new job, start dating again. These resolutions are fine on their own, but the way our society treats them is not.
New Year’s resolutions are prescribed and executed as big, abrupt changes which we expect to be easy and work essentially overnight. But that is rarely how they unfold. Maybe you’re good about your diet or workout routine at first, but once you mess up, you think you’ve lost the resolution game completely. This feeling of failure is only compounded by the fact resolutions are often linked to insecurities scrutinized by advertising, clickbait self-help articles, and social media at large.
In all of my years, I have only been able to keep one New Year’s resolution. Last New Year’s, I set a resolution to wear more color. Though the outfit I’m wearing as I write this is mostly black, this is now out of the norm for me. It would not have been in 2017, though, when half of my closet was black and grey. In the hopes of feeling happier and seeming more like an adult, I decided 2018 would be the year I wore more color. And it worked.
I succeeded at this by taking intentional steps to achieve a more colourful wardrobe. I went through my darker clothes first when cleaning out my closet and looking for things to donate. When I shopped and found something I liked in black, I tried to find the same thing or something similar in another color to buy instead. And when I put on a mostly black outfit, I had to add something brighter to balance it out.
Though this was not a deep overhaul to how I lived, like some resolutions can be, I think the key to success is still tied to being intentional about change. It’s easy to say “I will lose weight” and create a to do list of a million things folks have said will help you achieve that goal. It’s harder to sit down and go through that list and reflect on what will actually work with your lifestyle, instead of trying to do them all at once. The flashy, sudden changes so wed to New Year’s resolutions are enticing, but when they don’t pan out, they lead to more shameful feelings than they’re worth.
There is immense value in mapping out clear steps for these changes which fit your life and needs. It allows your to reflect on why you are making this change, who can help keep you accountable, and the small things you can do, or may be doing already, to reach larger goals. Internalizing this process can help you achieve those pesky New Year’s resolutions, and make changes not motivated by the Earth’s trip around the Sun easier.
Though I think of myself as a pretty intentional person, LVC has taught me even more about it. Our house is both good at communication and setting goals; however, these don’t always go hand-in-hand. When we set a goal to meet each week to meal plan, it requires six people to think intentionally about making that happen as a community and individually. Collectively, we need to find a time to meet and stick to it. Individually, we need to remember to look up a recipe – whether that means setting aside some time to page through our cookbooks before bed one night or searching the web on the bus to work. We have to create habits and hold each other to them, which isn’t always comfortable, but the goal being reached – such as weekly meal planning meetings – makes the house function a little better.
Though I haven’t set any new goals for 2019 just yet, I know my growing knowledge of intentional change will come in handy when I do.