You know that list of resolutions you’ve so proudly written in your new 2020 planner with ‘you go girl!’ stickers emblazoned over its pages? I hate to break it to you, honey, but according to U.S. News & World Report, 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail by February. After years of failing to meet every single resolution I’ve ever listed (aside from travel ones – those I almost always meet!), I’ve come to realise that it’s easier to make small, achievable affirmations than big, lofty resolutions for the year.
You see, resolutions come, for most people, at the turn of the new year. This comes from reflection of course, of the time that has gone by and the prospect of a brighter, more exciting time to come. Totally get it — despite my dark thoughts of wanting to drown Dora the Explorer when my toddler has a viewing marathon, I, too, would like a rainbow at the end of the storm.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t make goals for the year, I’m saying you should make them achievable, like I have. Take reading, for instance. A lot of people have “read more” in their resolution, but reading more makes it so generic and well, let’s face it – uninspiring. One year, my affirmations involved supporting more women’s businesses and artists, so I went through an an entire year reading novels written only by women. In 2019, after two years of reading nothing but pregnancy and parenting books, my affirmation to make more time to do things I enjoy involved reading at least one fiction book a month — by the end of the year, I had gone through 14 books, and that didn’t include the parenting and religious books I read on the side.
The reality is while sometimes change can be a good thing, it can also be incredibly daunting. You’ve told yourself all December that you will “eat healthy come January”, but now that it’s here, where can you start? Affirmations are small sentences you tell yourself daily to help you build the habit, for example, for me, I’m cutting refined sugar as a lifestyle change so it’s literally reminding myself to put down that piece of melt-in-your-mouth Royce chocolate that my mother always seems to have in her fridge and walk away to read another page of my novel instead. Small achievable goals.
I don’t mean to preach and sound like I’m asking you to sit in a zen space with crystals and tune in to your horoscope, but in a time where we put self-care on a pedestal, it’s important to remember that how we talk to ourselves impacts our actions and our behaviour.
Here’s also the thing about affirmations — it’s smaller, so if and when you fail, your disappointment in yourself isn’t massive. And it can change, so if you decide that running is just too boring and you want to mix up your training, perhaps a Spartan race should be on your calendar in 2020 instead?
My take? Self-care in 2020 should include stopping conjuring unrealistic versions of who we strive to be instead of ensuring that the person who we are, right now, is taken care of. It’s the year to give yourself some credit — you haven’t come this far without some hard work and badassery.