2017 is DEAD. And so is every promise I made to myself this year.
At the new years eve party I was asked about new years resolutions and I didn’t know what to say, partly because I hadn’t thought about it and partly because goals I make for myself are linked to my mental health and wellness and really too personal/confronting for polite conversation.
I spent the 1st sleeping off a hangover and nursing a back injury that I got at the gym a few days ago. That brings us to today, and I’m forced to think about the matter more seriously.
As I was browsing through facebook this morning I saw this article by Rosie Waterland,
“Why New Year’s Resolutions are Pointless”
The article says, basically new years resolutions are always going to end in disappointment. So by setting them, you’re only causing yourself disappointment and strain on your mental health.
Rosie approaches this article from a context of mental health struggles and tragedy in her own life that I can relate to but still I fundamentally disagree with her because she is making two assumptions:
a) Setting goals is only worthwhile if you’re going to achieve them
b) If life is shit now, it will always be shit
So, I’ll start with point a.
I absolutely think you should set goals for 2018, if you are so inclined. But you have to have a plan, and be prepared to shift your focus. There’s no point saying you’re going to run a marathon, and making no extra time to train, and having no training plan. Actual research has to go into that.
A goal, and a path to achieve that goal is not a linear process – it’s a journey. If you make a resolution, put changes in place to get there but still fall short, you’re still further along than you were at the start of the year. So you set out to lose 20 kilos but you only lost 10? You still had to make huge changes to your lifestyle to achieve that.
Which brings me to – be kind to yourself. Acknowledge your achievements even if they weren’t what you were hoping for. Maybe you didn’t make any progress. You probably had a good reason! The effects of stress, mental illness and tragedy on someone’s life isn’t always visible and sometimes, as Rosie says in her column, you have to be gentle with yourself. She also says, and I’m paraphrasing, she is more likely to win an Oscar than to ever go to the gym yet in another paragraph admits to going three times in 2017. With those kind of odds she should probably be proud of that progress!
So, point B.
Say I’m in survival mode right now. To avoid setting goals because I think I will always be in survival mode is overly fatalistic. We don’t know what is in our future. We just don’t.
When I was talking about future plans in therapy, my psychologist says I have a tendency to assume that when I undertake a new task/life change, I won’t cope. When I think that way I become overly anxious and ultimately sabotage myself.
Yes mental health slip ups may occur and interfere with your goals, and it’s important to have a plan in place if they do, but if you avoid making plans in case this happens you will never achieve anything.
So with that in mind, what are some goals I have set for myself in 2018?
As a problem drinker, this is always the goal. Notice I don’t say don’t drink at all, I am using the same principle with dieting, if I cut something out completely I will be more likely to relapse and binge. My aim is a couple of drinks a week.
Develop a weights routine.
Unlike Rosie, I don’t feel like fitness goals are hilarious for me because I have always been active and am looking to improve my fitness and activity level beyond roller derby twice a week. I started at the gym a couple of weeks ago and started using weights but unfortunately have had to take a break because I strained my back. This probably happened because of bad form, so I’m hoping to do some personal training to fix my form and develop a routine that works for me.
Take my morning medication
This is a big one. I never forget my night meds because I don’t sleep without them, but with the morning set I am less reliable. To get my anxiety levels under control that needs to change, so I’m trying using a tracker in my traveller’s notebook insert so I can cross off when I take them.
If you want to make resolutions, don’t feel like it’s a pointless exercise if you don’t achieve them, there’s nothing wrong with having goals, it’s all about your attitude toward yourself. If you don’t want to make them? That’s fine too, you’ll still look back at the end of the year and be able to track your achievements.