I like doing laundry. There’s something so fulfilling in doing a concrete task with a beginning, middle and end. Folding clean laundry and putting it away gives me a sense of accomplishment.
New Year’s Resolutions can look to me like a laundry pile. A jumbled mess, but one that can be pre-treated, loaded in the washing machine, sorted out. The Resolutions can feel like a cycle: of washing, rinsing, repeating—the ordinary tasks within our extraordinary lives. Yet: the wash cycle of New Year’s Resolutions, especially the Resolutions made or based in shame, are doomed to fail. They fail as much as that pesky food stain that ruins my favorite T-shirt, simply because I missed the spot, didn’t pre-treat it. The laundry list of shame-based resolutions can fall into myriad categories. Here are but a few in the dirty laundry pile:
- The Perfect Body: Weight Loss. Resolving to lose half our body weight, because we are ashamed of our body. Body shaming never works.
- The Perfect Mate: The Happily Ever After. Resolving to marry or find the perfect partner. Nothing wrong in finding love. But we need to accept the whole person, and ensure that his/her values align with our hearts.
- The Perfect Job. Resolving to start a new, shiny, highly specialized career. As a recruiter, I get that: trading up for the new job. But: it’s not just about chasing the biggest cash, the most prestige. There’s more to you, more to your life. But be reflective, be picky. It’s got to be the right relationship, the whole enchilada: one that that brings out the best in you, the best you have to offer.
- The Perfect Ethical/Moral Life. Resolving to quit, forever and ever, amen--the one vice that keeps us stuck, in chains. We seek to give up, permanently, one or more of big seven: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth. And yet: our moral and ethical lives need to be ones of striving. If we think we can act in perfect accord, day in, day out, we set ourselves up for failure. Shame follows.
Here’s a short list of don’ts.
Don’t let the good be the enemy of the perfect. Don’t set yourself up for a Perfect Transformation in 2019. That will lead to a Perfect Storm: where shame, blame, and disappointment collide.
Don't set a superficial and purely self-centered goal. Se4lf-care is, for sure, important: without it, we risk burn-out. But give yourself permission to dream bigger, live more deeply. Make resolutions that spark love, joy and hope, not resolutions based in fear or worry. Resolutions that enrich your life and the lives of those around you are stickier, are more likely to have longer life, more lasting longevity.
SURVEY: CASE IN POINT
Here’s a survey that comes from a surprising source: Life Time. It’s a gym/fitness center. The survey polled more than 1,300 participants across 35 states, ages 18 to 55+ on topics spanning personal health to improving communities.
Survey Highlights include:
- 63% of respondents noted that family time makes them the most happy, followed by 57% saying exercise and or yoga brings them the most happiness day to day. Sex and eating average 23% and 22% respectively on the happy scale.
- 76% percent of respondents added that regular exercise makes them feel the healthiest, with 48% noting that eating healthy food makes them feel healthy. 26% responded that a balanced home and work schedule is what makes them feel the healthiest.
- 94% of respondents noted a person should workout 3 or more times a week to be healthy with 56% responding four or more times. This is a contrast to recent findings by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), which found that less than 23% of Americans get the recommended exercise weekly.
- 50% of respondents noted that work caused them the most stress, followed by 35% noting family, 30% noting finances and 22% noting the political climate. When it came to stress relief, 46% noted cardio relieves the most stress for them, with group fitness and yoga somewhat tied at 36% and 34% respectively.
- Losing 10 pounds? 28% of respondents said they would give up their smartphone while 17% said they would ditch work and 13% adding they would give up sex. So, sex did not fare well this year. At all.
- The most likely New Year's resolution of respondents? 57% noted a desire to improve overall well-being and mental health versus 46% of respondents who would like to lose weight/eat better.
According to Life Time’s press release, “The results mark a shift from past New Year's where losing weight and eating better have repeatedly taken the top spot. As we enter 2019, the focus on overall wellness, including prioritizing family and general well-being and mental health will be our top priority on the heels of a year that has been stressful for many.”
WALKING INTO 2019
Cassidy Hall, one of my favorite authors & documentary film-makers, reflects on Resolutions in her article, “A New Year Offering.” She will quote another favorite writer: Parker Palmer’s “On the Brink of Everything.” “I no longer ask what do I want to let go of and what do I want to hang on to…Instead I ask what do I want to let go of and what do I want to give myself to.”
May we all go into 2019, as clean, fresh sheets tethered to a clothesline of Something More. May we reflect on what we are giving ourselves to. May we give away and release fear and worry. May we give ourselves--our open and vulnerable hearts--to new hope, new life, new possibilities.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
“A New Year Offering,” by Cassidy Hall (December 28, 2018). LINK: https://bit.ly/2EWtIlJ
Survey General Information. Life Time, www.lifetime.life
Survey Media Contacts. Life Time // Natalie Bushaw / 952.229.7007 / email@example.com, The Gab Group // Michelle Soudry / 561.750.3500 / firstname.lastname@example.org