I love the New Year. And I know that New Year resolutions can be cheesy…but they can also be very helpful and a tool you can use to propel you forward towards your goals. New Year comes at an interesting time each year. People are ready for change. Starting at Halloween, workouts start dropping off and sweet treats find their way into offices and homes. Parties increase and there are some big eating holidays like Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas. Many of my clients end up feeling pretty drained and ready for a change after all that. Enter the New Year full of fresh promise – and a quieter schedule to focus on some introspection.
My best friend and fellow dietitian Chris Vogliano and I decided to present a Facebook Live event towards the end of January to talk about our resolutions – or themes – why we do it and how to maximize the benefit of this practice. We are presenting New Year 2018 Resolution Trends: what you need to know to make this year a success on Thursday 1/25/18 at 6pm PST (or 3pm on 1/26/18 if you’re like Chris and live in New Zealand!)
Did you know that New Year resolutions have trends each year? Of course there is always weight loss and starting up at the gym again but shedding extra pounds are actually only 12% of resolutions this year. These are the types of resolutions that typically fail, giving resolutions a bad name. Other trends I’m seeing this year include:
- more mindfulness (mindful eating, mindful spending, mindful kindness)
- trying new things/learning new things – like doing one new thing each day or signing up for classes to learn new skills
- one person I know chose “spirituality” and others choose to meditate more
- fitness trends this year include rowing and boxing gyms
- spending less time on social is trending really strongly
- setting a theme for your year as a word or phrase (more on that below!)
New Year resolutions are hard. They often drop off by February and we know that. But just because we suck at sticking to resolutions doesn’t mean that they’re bad. I have a new favorite quote this month by Margaret Thatcher: “you may have to fight a battle more than once to win it”. Which is why Chris and I are chatting about how we utilize New Year themes to keep us on track and drive progress throughout the year.
Chris and his friends choose a theme each year. The theory is that often times goals can get watered down or forgotten throughout the year, but if they just pick one over-arching theme, then it can apply to many goals. The other helpful aspect of picking a yearly theme is that you can easily and quickly keep other people accountable to it. I’m so fascinated by how Chris makes this work by doing it in a group. This year they chose achievement partially because it is universal; it can apply to anyone. Chris says, “achievement might be learning how to salsa dance or picking up the basics of coding. To someone else it could be getting straight A’s or making progress on writing a book. It simply sets the tone for the whole year, and it’s easy to keep yourself accountable to a universally applicable theme.” This is a great theme for him – he just moved across the world to New Zealand and he is pursing his PhD. Previous themes include:
- 2014 year of perspectives
- 2015 year of opportunity
- 2016 year of challenges
- 2017 year of romance
I am tagging onto Chris’ theme. I have a LOT to accomplish this year and I need to WORK to make it happen. But the thing is, I can’t accomplish what I want to if I don’t make some serious time to make it happen. I am not drinking wine (gasp) in January – and maybe beyond. I find that I’m more productive and I have more energy which is what I need right now. Dry January is hugely popular and again, I find it easy after the debaucherous holiday season. I also need to make more space in my life to do all my creating. So I chose a sub-theme to get me started in the New Year – simplicity. I already did minimalism and now I’m streamlining tasks. I got a giant desk calendar that takes up my entire office. I signed up for Amazon Fresh. I got a password manager. Simplicity is delicious.
As we started this 2018, I heard a lot about people reviewing what they had wanted to accomplish last year and realizing that they still want the same things and didn’t make less traction – what can be done about that? Chris and I have some suggestions on how to make real forward progress. Aside from choosing a theme and doing it as a group to hold others accountable like Chris, you could also try picking something a little out of the ordinary – but something that could make a big change in your life. Think outside the box and try:
-adopting a more plant-based diet (meatless Monday, vegan weekends, etc)
-starting a yoga practice
-adopt new efficiency skills (batching work, 0 inbox, etc)
-reading one book a week (or a month)
You’ll need to decide on a plan to revisit the theme or resolution that that it stays top of mind. Perhaps each month at the beginning, reflect on if you are living your theme or if you need to make any course adjustments. Take active steps towards what you want. Want to start a yoga practice? Secure a set of classes and stick them on your schedule. Want to learn how to play the piano? Sign up for lessons. I’m taking some steps forward right now that require a monetary investment and that’s what’s been keeping me from committing but I’m jumping in.
Chris suggests that concentration is key. Rather than trying to conquer the world in one day, focus on 1-3 priority tasks you want to complete by the end of the day He finds that having a daily to-do list that’s too long will be overwhelming, and if you don’t get it done you will feel defeated. It’s a marathon not a sprint. He personally keeps daily, monthly, and yearly lists and prioritizes his days around them. If he gets his 1-3 priority tasks completed, he considers that a success that keeps him on track.