Oh, New Year’s resolutions. Now is that brief time of year when we make them...and (more likely than not) promptly break them. Typically, we feel pressure to lose a few of those extra pounds or institute some lofty career goal, and before you know it, we’re hashtagging #NewYearNewMe with the best of them.
Sure, self-improvement is a good thing, but pushing yourself too hard to drop a size or burning yourself out trying to be a #GirlBoss doesn’t sound like the most positive approach to making changes in your life. What if our mind-set around New Year’s resolutions — or goals in general, because it doesn’t have to be January 1 to put this into practice — could shift? What if resolving to change because we’re not good enough could be replaced with wanting to grow from a place of self-love and acceptance? What if?
So instead of dreading January 1, and hanging the success of your goals on an arbitrary date, choose to loosen up a bit. Make self-growth a daily activity — something achieved through small, attainable changes that you do out of loving yourself and because it will only benefit you, not because you feel pressure or because some self-help guru tells you to. Here are a few areas you can start with.
Rethink Your Approach to Food and Exercise
New Year’s resolutions are notorious for centering around the diet culture. Typically, a resolution will involve a strenuous diet or rigorous workout regimen. But going on an intense diet or committing to a new hard-core exercise routine doesn’t sound like being kind to yourself — it sounds like punishment and deprivation. Instead of doing these things, resolve to be healthier in a way that you can feel good about. Figure out how to honor your body by doing what makes it feel good. And, by all means, if you don’t know what that is, make it your resolution to find out! Release yourself from the pressure to take part in the diet culture and instead focus on authentic healthfulness. For example, you might find a physical activity you love, not one that’s a chore. That might be hiking or swimming or playing tennis or walking around the park during your favorite time of day. Or practice eating for health and nutrition, not for weight loss; let those trappings go. Instead, learn more about what foods fuel your body and make you feel more energetic and nurtured. Bottom line, put the focus on what honors your body and makes it feel good, and you’ll be on your way to helping your body thrive.
No one would disagree with the importance of honoring others through being kind, but when it comes to honoring ourselves and pointing kindness inward, it somehow becomes a lot more difficult. Despite the best intentions, it’s not uncommon to beat ourselves up on a daily basis with negative thoughts or unkind self-talk about the way we look, the work we do, the choices we make…the list goes on. Without trying to be, we’re our own worst critics — and that needs to change.
Commit to being mindful about how you speak to yourself and nurture an inner culture of self-love and kindness. Additionally, determine to step away from habits that produce the opposite of self-love. Make it a point to not compare yourself or compete with others. This may mean you need to limit your time on social media, because when everyone is Instagramming their latest vacation, beach body or adorable, perfectly behaved children, it can make you think their lives are ideal and yours is far from it. Discipline yourself to not live on your devices. You may find it’s wise to cut out social media altogether — or you may just need to cut back for a few hours every day. Commit to looking at images that will fill you with gratitude and positivity and leave the rest behind. Conscious decisions like this will help you be ever mindful of the importance of self-love.
Remember, there is no one magic time of the year to overhaul your life; and even if there were, you certainly don’t need an overhaul. What you need is to make small, attainable changes that produce a healthier, happier, more in-love-with-yourself you. So go on, make this year the year you leave #NewYearNewMe in the dust and instead embrace something far more awesome: #NewYearLoveMe. Because loving yourself and accepting yourself helps you grow toward authenticity and away from the artificial and unattainable, and that is one goal we can all aspire to.
Stacey Kole was managing editor of the national beauty and style magazine “Savvy” and is currently a freelance writer and editor based out of Phoenix, Arizona.