A New Way To Look At Resolutions: Evolve The New Year has just started, but you may have already parted with your resolutions. Use these tips to regain your footing and learn to mindfully evolve. BY MARY JAYNE ROGERS PH.D.
Committing to change your way of living is hard, but being mindful of individual choices is easy.
“ Transformation begins every time we make a conscious choice to be better—in our health, our thoughts, our actions, and our words.”
You’re just over the first few weeks of the New Year. So, how has the "new you" been shaping up?
Most commonly, many have resolved to lose weight or exercise more. Sometimes we pledge to give up a chronic behavior that we know is not healthy, such as drinking alcohol, smoking, or over spending. The statistics vary, but no matter which reference you choose, the success rate of resolutions is dismal; ranging from approximately 8-45%. That means over half and probably closer to 90% of those who make a resolution will fail.
I do not like to use the "f-word" (fail). In this case however, I use it to illustrate how we feel when we try to better ourselves and simply don’t accomplish what we set out to do. We feel like failures. We throw in the towel and resume the unhealthy behavior. Sometimes we recommence with enthusiastic fervor, which only causes us to spiral further down the rabbit hole.
There is a lot science behind goal setting that can help foster success. The conventional wisdom includes setting small, specific, attainable goals that have a time reference, can be measured and rewarded. This is good advice.
If things haven’t quite worked out so far this year, however, I am going to suggest a different approach. Instead of resolution, consider evolution. To stand at the first of the year and resolve to change is a monumental act, which is only rarely productive and most frequently destructive. Instead, I propose that moving forward, every moment is an opportunity to remember, to make conscious decisions, and to evolve toward a more healthful and gratifying life.
In this new paradigm, we are managing our success instead of hurling ourselves toward failure. We offer ourselves ongoing occasions to consider our situation and make mindful choices about our lives—continually as opposed to annually.
Alcoholics Anonymous gives us a broad example of how this can work over a lifetime by making a daily commitment not to drink alcohol. The new evolution paradigm takes this concept and boils it down to living consciously and mindfully as frequently as you can throughout the day.
When you begin this pattern of thoughtfulness, your awareness is likely to expand well beyond the single goal you started out with. You may begin with simply being mindful about making healthier food choices—not keeping to a strict diet, but choosing the healthier of two food options facing you. This may lead to taking a small step, like substituting coconut oil for corn oil. This in turn may cause you to begin to read labels; perhaps give up processed food. You may find a local source for organic produce or begin to grow your own. Perhaps your new gardening skills would be a fun way to contribute to a school or community garden.
In this way, the evolution model helps you not only to achieve the smaller goal of eating more healthfully, but to progress toward cultivating a sense of personal well-being, which in turn generates positive change in your immediate environment. The goodness in the energy you generate pays itself forward and the small change you initiated can be the seed of greater awareness in your community and the world.
Lastly, the beauty of the evolution concept is that while the beginning of the New Year is a significant time to look back at what has been and to consider what will be, it is not the grand turning point for change. Transformation begins every time we make a conscious choice to be better—in our health, our thoughts, our actions, and our words. It is not harsh nor doctrinaire. You can do it now. You can do it any time. Simply resolve to evolve.
Dr. Mary Jayne Rogers is an Exercise Physiologist specializing in whole-person wellness and fitness education and instruction. As an educator, Mary Jayne brings multi-dimensional wellness and fitness experiences along with a welcoming and genuine teaching style to inspire students and wellness enthusiasts of all ages. Dr. Rogers is the owner of Profound Wellness LLC. You can find more information at www.doctormaryjayne.com.