Why I hate New Year’s Resolutions & What to do Instead
I blame the Babylonians. They tried to atone for their guilt by offering gifts to the gods, only to repeat their sins and do it all again the following year. Four thousand years later we’ve not learned much.
If you’ve ever made a New Year’s Resolution you’ll know how hard it is to stick to them. Even though it’s actually your goal, your decision, your responsibility to see it through, and you don’t owe anyone anything . . . you mess it up.
It's easer not to
Why? Because it’s easier not to. It’s easier not to diet, not to detox, not to go to the gym (while paying your guilt money), and it’s definitely easier not to give up booze for January. Most of us make New Year’s Resolutions because we regret over-indulging during the holidays: we feel torn between who we are and who we feel we should be.
We have these ‘shoulds’, ‘oughts’ and ‘musts’ floating around our psyche. It’s as if there’s a better version of us out there in the ether being perfect and skinny and glamorous. If we only had enough self-discipline we might one day become her and live happily ever after. But right now, you are not her. Ha! Our inner critical voice taunts us.
"You are not flawed. You are not broken.
You don’t have to be bagged up and taken to the dump
with the dead Christmas tree."
Motivated by vanity and fear
I’m not really against New Year’s Resolutions per se. As a coach I think it’s useful to take time to consider what we want and how to get it. There’s plenty of research evidence showing the benefit of goal-setting. But it’s important to set goals in a realistic and supported way; not in frantic desperation where your only motivators are vanity and fear.
However, I am totally against people pushing the concept of New Year New You. You are not flawed. You are not broken. You don’t have to be bagged up and taken to the dump with the dead Christmas tree.
Self-loving not self-loathing
Instead, I believe we should be aiming for something far more useful: New Year New Perspective. Shifting your perspective from self-loathing to self-loving is a more compassionate way to launch your new year.
This new self-loving perspective will also give you a better chance to achieve what you want. After all, it’s hard to keep your New Year’s Resolutions if you're not feeling good about yourself.
You might be thinking, “Of course I’d like to feel more self-loving and less self-loathing, especially at this time of the year. Of course I know New Year’s Resolutions don’t stick. But how can I shift my perspective?”.
Do this one thing instead
If I could bottle self-love I would. But I can’t. The closest I’ve come to doing so is by offering my FREE 5-Day Online Challenge Tame Your Inner Critic for women.
The content is really easy to follow in bite-sized chunks. It’s delivered to your inbox every day, with videos, challenges and worksheets. There are guided meditations for you to follow, and there’s a supportive Facebook group just for members.
Join us! We start again on the 14th January. There are over 500 women from all over the world getting ready to set a new intention for 2019. Sign up here:
Jess Baker is a Chartered Psychologist, Women’s Leadership Coach, and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society.
She works across a range of industries designing and delivering leadership development programmes for large corporate clients, and wants to help empower a much wider audience of women ready to step into their light.
Jess is a passionate coach, and an engaging facilitator. She is often quoted in women's magazines, has trained in stand-up comedy, and enjoys speaking at wellbeing events across the UK.
She is also a Trustee of BelEve UK, helping to empower girls aged 8-18 through leadership programmes in schools and communities.