I can't recall the last time I made a New Year's resolution. It's not that I loathe them. It's just that they kind of remind me of one of my exes who used to constantly make promises, then reassurances, only to break them.
He wasn't a jerk. He was actually a nice guy who, for the most part, had his heart in the right place (at least relatively-speaking). In hindsight, I think our disconnect was the fact that since my top love language is words of affirmation, he thought that so long as he said he was going to do something, following through wasn't that big of a deal. To me, New Year's resolutions and my ex have a lot in common.
Every year, millions of us think that so long as we put on record what we intend to do, we don't really need to put our words into action. There's data to support my lil' theory too. I recently checked out an article that said as much as 80 percent of people annually break their New Year's resolution — or resolutions — by February. There are a million-and-one theories — ones that are probably more like excuses — behind why.
Some say they break their resolutions because they don't have the time to keep them.
Others say they break their resolutions because they were unrealistic to begin with.
Then there are those who struggle because they don't see immediate results.
I have another theory. I think the reason why a lot of individuals fail at keeping their resolutions is because they should've never made them to begin with; their entire perspective on reaching a certain goal stresses them out before they even start, and that is what dooms them to fail from Day One.
Does that mean I think that we shouldn't have aspirations for the New Year? No. I just believe we'd get a lot more accomplished if we focused on creating a New Year's bucket list instead. Think about it.
Say that you want to lose weight by summer. A resolution would come in the form of "lose 25 pounds". A bucket list entry could be something like go hiking in Colorado or taking yoga at a fabulous spa.
Maybe you want to stop spending so much money on frivolous stuff. A resolution would be to not eat out more than once a month. A bucket list entry would be to plan an international trip for the fall.
What if your resolution is to finally get over your ex? A resolution would be to block him from social media. A bucket list entry would be to try speed dating or to hire a professional matchmaker.
See the difference?
Whenever we focus on making resolutions, already it can put some (sometimes totally unnecessary) pressure onto ourselves because all we're really thinking about is what we're going to stop doing and/or how much work is going to be involved in changing our life or breaking a habit.
But when we're more in the mindset of creating a bucket list, it gives us new and exciting things to look forward to — and if they are centered around things that we want to let go of or do differently, that's a mere bonus.
So, sometime this coming weekend, do yourself a big favor. Turn off the tube. Put on some of your favorite music and pull out a piece of paper and a pen. Write down 5-7 things that would normally be a New Year's resolution. Then, instead of framing it as a resolution — something that you need to "resolve" — think of how you can turn it into a bucket list entry instead.
Do you wanna cook more? Put "taking a cooking class" on your bucket list. Wanna conquer fear? Put "go ziplining at Hunter Mountain" on your bucket list. Tryin' to reconnect with your spouse? Put "plan the ultimate romantic date" on your bucket list.
It will give you things to look forward to. FUN THINGS that won't stress you but will excite you instead! I guarantee it.
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Originally published on December 30, 2018