Written by Tessa Torgeson in collaboration with Clarity Counseling
The New Year has decidedly arrived–bringing with it a blanket of snow, subzero temperatures, and beautiful, pearlescent layers of hoar frost depicted in the photo with this blog. Hoar frost is a powerful metaphor for New Year’s resolutions. Both have humble beginnings. Hoar frost begins as a simple chunk of ice. Yet with time, patience, and the right conditions, this simple chunk of ice evolves into intricate layers of crystal, sort of like nature’s chandelier.
New Year’s resolutions begin with aspirations to make positive lifestyle improvements such as losing weight, getting in shape, quitting smoking, managing debt or lowering stress. Like hoar frost, New Year’s resolutions require time, patience, and specific conditions in order to build a healthier, more fulfilling life.
The path to a healthier, more fulfilling life begins with prioritizing a specific area of your life you feel needs most improvement and also that you feel ready to change. While you might feel inclined to set multiple resolutions, focus on one instead. Realistically, change is challenging. You set yourself up for success by creating specific, manageable steps towards a resolution.
Let’s say your goal is: “I would like to lose weight.” Create a list of reasons you want to change and motivations for change. Specifically think about a realistic, healthy goal for your body type and lifestyle. For example: “I would like to begin to exercise three days a week for thirty minutes.” Then, break the goal down even smaller.
If you have not been working out at all, take baby steps. For the first week, do your homework and check out different gyms. Ask friends where they work out and if they have a guest pass to join them. Get tours and find out membership rates.
For week two, try on exercise clothing and make sure you find something which you feel comfortable in. Also, decide on what kind of exercise you want to do. Try out different activities two days this week. If you are an introvert you might prefer quiet, soothing exercise such as yoga, solo swimming, or walking. If you prefer the treadmill, make a soundtrack of songs to keep you motivated, listen to an audiobook, or catch up on the news.
On the other hand, if you are an extrovert, motivated by other people, then group exercise is probably the best fit. Most gyms have a large variety of exercise classes for people of all ages, physical abilities, and levels of fitness. Try out kick-boxing, swimming classes, pilates!
For the third week, try the exercise you enjoy for at least ten minutes on two days. Journal and reflect upon your experiences during the first three weeks, especially think about what you liked about working out. If you have challenges, write about those, too.
Bumps along the journey are likely to happen, but resolutions are not an “all or nothing” endeavor. If you miss a few days, try not to be hard on yourself or quit working out altogether. Reflect upon what didn’t work. Perhaps you were pushing yourself too hard. Give your body time to heal in between workouts, start small, and gradually increase your time. Perhaps the gym was too busy for you to feel comfortable working out. Try going earlier in the morning or later in the evening. Try exercise tapes at home or walks outdoors.
Congratulate yourself for successes, too. Find the rewards in committing yourself to change, realizing it doesn’t happen overnight.
Above all, the key to New Year’s resolutions is being realistic, flexible, specific, and adaptable. Be gentle with yourself on your journey towards self-improvement. Remember it is also important to have support and guidance along this journey.
If you are struggling with your New Year’s resolution, Marty and Trish Tallakson at Clarity Counseling can help can support you along your journey towards self-improvement for a healthier, more fulfilling life.