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Wellness Tip: Getting Beyond Resolutions

Posted Pamela Young on 12/19/2014 |

Wellness Tips

If you dissect the term "resolution," it literally means to repeat a solution. It's no wonder so many of us end up making (and breaking) the same resolutions over and over again. But that doesn't mean you can't make meaningful changes in the coming year. Experts increasingly agree that most people would do better to use an approach that’s more connected to personal evolution than resolution.

Here are some recommendations:

Targets tend to be fixed, but themes help shape and guide.

Add. Don’t subtract. Why start the new year operating from a negative when there are plenty of simple things you can add to your routine that will improve health and wellness. For example, instead of rigorously substracting things from your diet, try adding a serving of vegetables to every meal or adding some protein to your snack choices. This isn't just true for improving nutrition. Adding 20 minutes of sleep each night can positively impact your energy and attention. The results over time may surprise you, and soon you’ll be working from a new norm.

Reverse engineer your resolutions. Reflect on the resolutions you tend to make, including (or especially) the ones you have trouble keeping. Rather than focusing on what they require you to do (lose weight, read more, drink less), explore what they say about the type of person you’d like to be. This may help clarify your deeper motivations and intentions.

Which brings us to the next and perhaps best advice for making changes in the new year.

Pick a theme. Not a target. Targets tend to be fixed, but themes help shape and guide. Chose a word that describes a state-of-being or a quality that you want to cultivate in the coming year. For example, if you’ve been feeling adrift or are tempted to make a pile of resolutions about getting more done or making better decisions, perhaps your theme for the year is “clarity” or “intentionality.” As the year unfolds, keep your theme in mind and, as often as you can, seek to align your actions, decisions and the ways you spend your free time. 

What’s the main take-away here? Rather than the old concept of resolutions, seek instead to determine the qualities or the environment you’d like to better nourish for yourself, and then let that serve as a guiding influence as you move through the year ahead. This "work in progress" approach is less punitive and also more closely models how lasting change develops.

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