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    The Secret About New Year’s Resolutions

    Woman hiking through Muir Woods.

    If you’re going to make New Year’s resolutions, we salute you. We’re making them, too! But in this space, we’d like to make a few suggestions for getting the most joy out of making changes in your life. 

    First, Go Easy on Yourself

    I often wonder if the New Year happened in, say, March, would we feel the need to make so many changes and all at once. But coming at the tail end of the holiday season, we might feel more overextended than usual. If you had a lot of togetherness over the holidays, it may have come at the cost of good nights’ sleep or regular exercise. If you indulged in rich holiday dishes, well, ‘twas the season. If you spent more money than you intended, you were probably just trying to find the gifts that best express your love for the recipient. At work or at school, for many of us, December is when we have to really double down on our efforts, too. 

    Put all this together and you’re thinking, I must change my life! But really, the arrival of the New Year is the return to our regularly scheduled program. Keeping this in perspective can help you shift your thinking away from self-criticism. Don’t look at your “holiday self” in isolation, though if you want to prepare for next year, now is a good time to devote a journal entry or two to how you were feeling over the holidays, what you might have done differently if you were more rested, less stressed about money or travel or whatever else. Set a reminder for a date in November to read your writing and see how these insights might inform your actions and mental landscape at the start of the next holiday season.

    Be Thrilled by the Clean Slate of It All

    Remember when you were little and you were about to start a new school year? Even if you weren’t a total school supplies nerd like me, getting excited about untouched notebooks and yet-to-be-sharpened pencils, you have to admit that going back to school after a long summer’s rest is much more of a new beginning than New Year’s Eve giving way to New Year’s Day. 

    Over the summer, you didn’t have any patterns, productive or otherwise, of managing your time or studying or reviewing your notes. You didn’t get any grades. You didn’t have a grade-point average to maintain or pull up. 

    So what if you approached the changes you want to make in the New Year with that same feeling? While you might want to stop doing something you were doing as recently as yesterday, what if you told yourself it had been a long time since you…skipped the gym or spent outside your budget or lost too much time mindlessly scrolling? What if you gave yourself that feeling of having a head start, rather than seeing January first as Square One? 

    Take It Day By Day

    A while ago, a friend of mine who had long had no exercise habit announced she’d not just taken up running but had also signed up for a 5K. But the thing is, she hated running. She hated that she was mostly walking. She took no joy in the small gains like one day being able to run a little bit more of the route than the day before. In her mind, she was already behind in her training. She thought of her marathon-running husband and felt nothing but frustration. 

    She never did run that 5K. She realized she didn’t want to put an end goal on fitness, so she got a bicycle and started riding it on a path near the river. She didn’t think about miles or how fast she was going. She had no event to work toward. And she was happy. She still rides today. 

    Is there something in this story for you? There is for me. I’m tempted by the notion of a “new me” who doesn’t make mistakes, who stays in touch with everyone, who packs a lunch, who folds the laundry right out of the dryer. But that person is a fictional character, not a real person, not if we’re saying that person is me. And that’s okay. It doesn’t mean I won’t try. And I’ll work to find the joy. I’ll let that be my true New Year’s resolution. 

    Written by Shannon, an AllWell Beauty contributor.