New Years Day has come and gone, and with it went the nostalgia of the year past and, perhaps, your resolution. We’re absurdly good at remembering the high moments of our pasts while neglecting to think of the hard times that came before them. In a similar light, we’re great at resolving to make changes in the future without thinking that it might be hard… and that we might screw up.
We’re less than a week into the new year, and even though we’ve promised ourselves to go to the gym, follow a new diet or quit smoking, the excitement of a new, better version of ourselves is behind us and reality is settling back in with the same overwhelming sense of routine.
Maybe you were just too tired to hit the power cycle class after work. Maybe you swore off alcohol, but everyone else at happy hour had a margarita and suddenly, that soda water with lime didn’t seem so appetizing. Maybe you haven’t had a minute to start planning your dream vacation because you’re still trying to take down the Christmas decorations.
Life happens. It’s okay.
A new year doesn’t mean perfection.
And we don’t need a new year to start over.
Like most great things, the positive changes we make for ourselves and our lives don’t happen overnight. We have evolved to take comfort in the familiar, and changes we make to better ourselves often take drastic forms that challenge everything we know. Losing weight doesn’t have to mean cutting sugar or carbs entirely. Instead, it can mean working in thirty minutes of exercise a day and cooking a meal we usually eat at a restaurant. Small changes are often more effective in the long run.
As long as we have a goal and do our best to act with it in mind, we’ll mess up less and less. The important thing is that we’re constantly trying. If we look at a change as a process instead of a result, we’re able to figure out what works for us and ways to make that change part of our lives for long enough that it stops being a change and instead becomes a habit.
Our egos are really good at getting in the way and telling us that because we’ve failed, we’re failures. There’s no truth to that unless we accept it. If you already feel that way, stop right now! If you’ve tried to incorporate a change into your life but have already messed up, think of the habit as something you can do “daily-ish,” something you practice most days. It takes the pressure off if you feel like you really need a cheat day or two, and it allows the end goal to stay on our minds as something they were doing, rather than something we’ve tried and failed at.
If we keep climbing and doing our best, eventually, we’ll get there.