That's the question of the hour this time of year.
I hear a lot of people reply that they don't make resolutions. "Why bother, I don't keep them anyway," they say.
Is that you? If it is, I ask you to pause to read this and reconsider that response.
Take a moment to consider why you don't keep them. I imagine that it is because 1) your previous resolutions have either been too vague or too big and 2) you have an all or nothing mindset.
This year I'm going to eat healthy.
This year I'm going to lose 100 pounds.
This year I'm going to exercise everyday.
There are some people that can make broad or big statements like that and stick to them. I'm not one of them and I imagine that I am not alone.
I'd say - "This year I'm going to eat healthy." I do just that for the first few weeks of the year. Then there is a big football game and I'm making all kinds of scrumptious tailgating food. There goes that resolution out the window! Back to my old way of eating!
I'd say - "I'm going to lose 100 pounds this year." Over the first few weeks I would lose five pounds. Then I'd have a stressful week where I would eat a little more, exercise a little less and . . . BAM! Gain two pounds. There goes that resolution out the window! Back to my old ways.
I'd say - "I'm going to exercise everyday." I'd work out on the Wii or go to the Y or go for a walk everyday for a few days. Then one night I have to work late. The next night JJ has a basketball game and Ellie needs help with her homework. The next night I take Ellie to her music lessons and there is a meeting at church. Yikes - three days in a row with no exercise. There goes that resolution out the window! Back to skipping the gym.
If I can't be perfect ALL the time then I want NOTHING to do with this resolution.
Five year's ago I made a New Year's Resolution and I kept it. I kept it because 1) my resolution was specific and 2) I didn't give up.
My health was heading down a dangerous path. I needed to make wiser choices and get healthy. But what exactly does that look like? I needed to lose at least 50 pounds, but to me that was a huge number. I needed to eat better, but I really like chips and brownies.
I set my focus on something smaller - a 5k run. I knew what that looked like. I could picture 3.1 miles. 16 laps around the track. 1 trip around the big block plus 1 trip around the little block. I could picture myself going that distance.
My New Year's Resolution for 2010 was very specific - I will complete a 5k.
I mapped out my plan to achieve that goal and got to work. But it wasn't always easy. There were days that I didn't exercise. Sometimes several days in a row that I didn't exercise. There were days that I stress ate so much pizza on a Friday night that the idea of putting on my running shoes Saturday morning was not even on my radar. Those were the times I wanted to give up. "I screwed up - no running for three days. Might as well quit." "Too much pizza - epic fail! Scrap the idea of getting healthy . . . again!"
But I DIDN'T give up. Instead I said to myself, "Ooooops!" and purposefully made the choice to get back on track. Guess what happened - that feeling of complete failure was quickly replaced by the feeling of complete joy in the victory of clearing that hurdle.
It is in that moment where most people get stuck. Do I throw my hands up in defeat or do I purposefully pick myself up and forge ahead? No matter what I do, I'm not going to be perfect all the time. Instead of raising a white flag in surrender to my imperfections, I choose to raise my arms in victory to all that I accomplish no matter how small.
Took a walk after dinner instead of watching TV. YES! Ate one cookie instead of four. YES! Put my tennis shoes on and went for a run even though I didn't feel like it. YES!
In 2010, I did it. I kept my New Year's Resolution. I completed my first 5k. Five years later I have run over 40 5ks. I lost 50 pounds and have kept it off. I went from a size 22 pants to a size 14. I feel GREAT!
Change is possible. You CAN do it. You may have tried a thousand times before and not made it, but that is OK. Try again. Try again in 2015. Make this your year.
Be purposeful about it. Pause for five minutes. Think. What do you want? How do you feel right now? How do you want to feel? Set a goal. A specific goal. Then go for it . . . and make the choice to not give up.