I don’t quite have words for it, but there is something uniquely special about New Year’s Eve. It’s as if some kind of magical spell is cast upon us when the clock chimes at midnight. It’s a chance to start anew; the line in the sand separating what once was from what may be.
In reality, I know that nothing of substance will likely happen to me between the two minutes of 11:59 p.m. Sunday and 12:01 a.m. Monday that moves us from 2017 into 2018. That is, nothing will happen yet. But, the premise of New Year’s resolutions is that we have the chance to start all over again.
I recently read an article, “Yet Is a Tiny But Powerful Word,” by Melissa Dahl. The piece chronicles the findings of Stanford psychology professor Carol Dweck, PhD, which notes that the simple word “yet” is what powers us to persevere. Dr. Dweck explains that those who are in a fixed mindset believe “you’re the way you are, and that’s that.” On the other hand, those in a growth mindset believe “you have the ability to learn and grow.” The belief in the possibility keeps those in the growth mind-set on the trajectory for learning and challenging themselves to try something new. “Yet” signifies potential.
“Yet” is a powerful word to keep in mind this time of year for all of us who set New Year’s resolutions. So, maybe you didn’t achieve your 2017 resolutions … yet. The extra pounds might still be weighing you down; the treadmill may be dusty – perhaps still in the box; and, the diet soda and chocolate bar might still be your daily breakfast routine. Shake off the feeling of failure. Remember — a resolution isn’t finalized in one day, or even one year. Instead, it’s a hundred little steps that we take throughout the months ahead. Think of it as a journey.
Gail Matthews at Dominican University found in her research that individuals who wrote down goals were most likely to achieve them. There is something about seeing those words in black and white that unleashes the power within us to pursue what we want to achieve.
By writing down resolutions, you create a visual roadmap of where to go. Without the roadmap, you’d have no idea of how to reach your destination or what to do next if you did make it there. Lewis Carroll famously said, “Any road will get you there if you don’t know where you are going.”
Some life coaches recommend re-framing how we think about resolutions. Many of us think in terms of grand ideas about changes we’d like to make – lose weight, save money, exercise more. They are admirable goals, but too lofty to sustain in most cases. It’s difficult to change things that we’ve been doing for decades. Our mind seems to play tricks on us when we deny ourselves. Rather than saying no to the peanut butter cup, know that it’s okay to eat it. But, be sure to eat a cup of strawberries or some carrot sticks sometime during the day. Meanwhile, until that day comes when your mouth waters at the sight of an orange, you won’t feel the sense of failure that comes from breaking a resolution.
Framing your resolutions in this positive, non-depriving light, could be applied to reducing debt (by saving $10/week), losing weight (walk three nights/weeks), watch less television (read one novel each month). It’s all in how you look at what you want to achieve. If you’re worried about remembering your resolutions, make it easy on yourself. To coincide with 2018, encourage yourself to exercise 18 minutes a day, or read 18 books in the year or save $18/week.
Be specific in your resolutions so you can monitor your progress or setbacks. And, there will be setbacks. But, just approach those broken resolutions by telling yourself, I haven’t gotten to my happy weight … yet.
Pamela Henderson is the director of development and communications at Dunebrook. To learn more about parenting and support programs at Dunebrook, call (800) 897-0007. Email Pam with parenting questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.