Why New Year Resolutions are not the answer.
It’s begun already, hasn’t it?. Those relentless reminders in magazines and social media (usually accessorised with alarming amounts of exclamation marks!!!!) to ditch the current YOU (because that’s bad, obvs) and resolute yourself to a New You!! for a New Year!! and a New Decade!!!!
Those poking sticks prod our already stressed-out minds insisting (in CAPs!) that on top of the litany of furious festive activities we have to achieve, and everywhere you turn there are articles, Facebook prompts and Instagram memes telling us we need to make New Year Resolutions because the current you is shabby, flabby and a little bit wrecked, so you know, it’s time for a “***NEW YOU!!!!!***”
The headlines are extra cheesy, because of the year that’s in it – “Make the resolutions so that you can have 20/20 vision for 2020!! For many of us though, the whole point is that we can’t see through the overwhelm, stress, and the social conditioning to be perfectionists, to focus on our own needs.
And this is why New Year Resolutions are not just a waste of time; they are actively damaging.
The thing is, there’s nothing wrong with you. You are great. YOU are lovely. It’s the expectations, overwhelm, guilt, social stress, perfectionist bullshit, time-poor, pressure-heavy life that needs a kick up the arse.
Resolutions are just another stick to beat yourself with, so make a New Year Resolution (because let’s face it, if habits where easy to break, we’d all be fit, lean, mentally-magnificent creatures) to not make any resolutions on the cusp of this new decade.
Instead, decide this decade is going to be yours. To live by design, not default.
Far too many of us live on autopilot, our lives running us rather than the other way round. The key is not to create a NEW YOU (!!!), but to evolve, discover, nurture, and encourage out the best version of you, and making your life one that serves that purpose, not the other way round.
The only way to do that, is to switch off autopilot, identify how much, and what parts of your life, are being lived in stagnating default mode with no intentional thought, and to take charge so you are living in control and in motion, engaged today, and living a life by design.
I was the same. For many years, I was so busy firefighting and fumbling through marriage, career and parenting that I woke up one day mid-aged, and stared in the mirror, barely able to recognise the vibrant girl I had once been in the woman glaring back at me. I’d been running on empty for so long in the stupid belief that this was the only way to live in order to *eventually* arrive at Destination Happy, and accept my Welcome Cocktail. But of course, we never ‘arrive’ when we have no idea who is flying the plane, or where we are going. We just keep flying round in circles hoping we don’t run out of fuel, or crash land in a place we never, ever put on our bucket list.
What is the default life? You know, it’s the one where you tell yourself stuff like “When I have….” and “When I am…..” and “If only I had …..” In a default life there are also lots of “I should’s”
As a coach, I also regularly hear “I’m not ……. enough.” Fill in the blank space with whatever word here is the default one for you – good, thin, successful, young, smart, happy, rich.
The default life is the one where we followed roadsigns without thought, roadsigns that we never even wrote (they were written by parents, teachers, cultural expectations, societal pressure).
The one where we are ruled by Guilt and Good Girl Goals. Then we hit mid-age and wonder why we’re not excited by the view. We’ve been too busy “getting there” to enjoy the ride, and the view wasn’t one we actually designed. It was a default one, prescribed to us as children and by Facebook.
It wasn’t until I stopped and took stock, that I realised how much bullshit I was tolerating in my life. In fact, how much of my life I was actually tolerating, rather than enjoying.
I told myself many lies: I wasn’t enough, my needs were selfish, I was a nicer person if I didn’t fight back. I could go on. But hey, nothing a few New Year Resolutions won’t solve!!! Except they just add to the pressure.
The biggest lie I told myself though – the one which, as The MidLife Coach, I see many, many women tell themselves, was this. I didn’t have a choice.
Here’s what I learned. Abraham Maslow, the psychologist who developed the now famous Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, also explained that at any given moment – at ANY given moment – we can step forward into growth, or step back into safety. The choice is always ours. For many women though, we have never been given the permission slip.
I did have a choice; stay the same (going nowhere), or take action (to go somewhere that I decided on).
Life without a plan is a drift.
Desire without a timeframe is a dream.
I learned that I could either just survive in a life where stuff happened to me as I rattled along on the rollercoaster not knowing what was around any corner, or I could live a life where I took small actions every day, consciously, with intent, to thrive in a life of my choosing. Every day, one of choice, one of design.
I realised that living on autopilot meant that it wasn’t that I had no choice, but that I wasn’t making any choices, and much of my life was on default mode.
When I got off autopilot and took the controls, I started designing my life by making choices and taking action. It didn’t mean I suddenly had a problem free life, or I “arrived” and got to sip that Welcome Cocktail. It meant I got to choose the problems I wanted in my life, and know that I never, ever want to get that Welcome Cocktail. I never want to “arrive.” Because that will mean I’m no longer growing, evolving, learning, adapting, experiencing new things, building, getting more confident, knowing myself better, developing, enjoying the unpredictability of life because I am secure in the predictability of my plan.
Sounds like New Year Resolutions, you may say! But no. A New Year resolution is merely a thought that you will resolve to do something… better, less, more. It’s an idea of how you want to be, rather than actively choosing how you will be, today.
We are the generation of women who are redefining and revolutionising mid-age. We’ve been given a gift that no other generation of women in history have been given: firstly, an extra 20 years of healthy life expectancy, not at the end of our lives, but at the middle; and secondly, that things have never been better for women. I’m by no means saying things are perfect, and we’ve a long way to go for proper equality, but mid-aged women today are in a position no other generation of women before us were. We have unprecedented independence, opportunities and time that means we now get to redefine the stale stereotype of de-sexualised, de-valued, voiceless women who faded into the background to knit once their breeding years were over.
But, it’s also a time of change and challenges (just the fact we are ageing in an arena of anti-ageing propaganda is enough to send us all screaming for the Gin), and a time of extreme overwhelm as we juggle relationships, families, parents and jobs. We were told we could ‘have it all’, but it feels an awful lot like we’re just doing it all.
So we have this wonderful gift, but the problem is, many of us aren’t sure how to open it.
The traditional signposts (education, career, partner, mortgage, kids) have now stopped because no-one had this time and potential before that we now do. We look ahead at all this time when 40, 50, 60 and 70 have been completely rebooted and redefined, and we’re not quite sure how to proceed. We need to write ourselves a permission slip.
Instead of beating ourselves with New Year Resolutions to get the NEW YOU! we need to give ourselves the gift of investment in ourselves to really figure out what makes us tick, and how to make life work for us, not the other way round.
It’s a new decade, a new paradigm of how to live this life at mid-age, and a new chance to live your life – by design, not default. All you need for the 20/20 vision (ah, I couldn’t resist), is to put on the mental glasses and start to see clearly, where you are, and where you want to go. It’s not about where you want to end up, but how you want to live today.
No-one else is ever going to give you permission.
No-one else is going to take away the overwhelm.
No-one else can design a life for you.
You are the difference between the life you have (by default, often) and the life you want (by design.) The only thing stopping you … is you.
But that makes you even more stressed! You’ve enough on your plate organising the Community Green Committee without factoring in a Life Plan schedule!
Worried that you will let people down? Worried about what people will think?
Worried that you are safer just keeping your head (and heart) down. It’s easier isn’t it?
Everyone is affected by self-doubt and worry… it’s natural. But it doesn’t have to own you. You can own it.
How? By taking action: not a resolution, but a revolution.
Step one is to choose. You have to CHOOSE to make your life better. That’s the design part. Your choices determine everything. The problem is we’re not making choices because we’re living on autopilot and therefore a default life.
Step two is to act. You have to ACT to make your life better. This is the implement part. It’s also the part where confidence starts to take the place of self-doubt, because when you are taking action, you are in charge.
Step three is persistence. You have to PERSIST by knowing the full plan, and understanding that it’s lots of little, intentional steps, not a freefall.
You will deal with setbacks, failure and some days will be hard. But, like weight loss, like building a business, like learning to drive… if you commit to the process, keep practising and keep focussed (because it’s your design, not default ) you’ll keep moving forward, no matter how small the progress seems. It could be as simple as making sure every day has a half hour just for you to be, think, walk, read, make a nutritious breakfast, or as big as making significant changes to make more time for things that really matter to you.
It might feel hard but surely continuing to sleepwalk will be harder when you look in the mirror in 2030 and realise another decade has just flown past?
So the best New Year gift you can give yourself isn’t another resolution to beat yourself with – but a plan! A plan designed by you.
Every day is a new dawn. Every day is the start of a new year, a new decade. So forget New Year resolutions, and start a new life revolution!
If you want to learn how to grab your life by the horns, you can sign up for my LIFE BY DESIGN, NOT DEFAULT programme starting January 7th, 2020.
- Feeling knackered, stressed, overwhelmed and undervalued?
- Wondering why life feels flat despite the effort you put in?
- Not sure who is staring back in the mirror at you?
Learn how to DESIGN your life, create a PLAN for living with intent, and feel UNSTUCK, unleashed and UNSTOPPABLE.
Imagine being able to put on a pair of (mental) glasses so you can see where you’re going, plan the route, and take over the controls so that you can stop living a default life, and start living a designed life? A life designed by you.
There are 3 parts to Life by Design, Not Default.
- Group coaching session in The Mayfield, Terenure, 10.30am-12pm, Tuesday 7th January
- Group coaching session online webinar, 10.30am-12pm, Tuesday 14th January
- Individual coaching session, week of 20th January.
For just €275 you get:
#1 – 3 BRAIN-BURSTING sessions
- one as a group (discovery)
- one online as a webinar (design)
- and one individual in person with me (delivery… how you start living your life today, develop / eradicate the habits that will help / hinder you etc)
- plus homework (that doesn’t involve a hoover).
#2 – An overview of your life – where’s it’s at, all the good, the bad, and the stressful so you know what your starting block is. This is mind-blowing. I’ll take you through some simple steps and you’ll suddenly get a helicopter view of your life, and from there know where you want to make changes, enhance, improve, reduce etc. It will seem so obvious when it’s done, yet so many of us never take the time to invest in doing it.
#3 – Discover the weapons in your armoury (or to be less violent, the tools in your toolbox, or the equipment in your backpack that will help you on your path) – your strengths, your values, your resources, your triggers, the boulders you carry around, like self-doubt, that we need to take out of the backpack.
#4 – Knowing what to say yes to and what to say no to. With relish and no guilt.
#5 – A compass or a pair of mental glasses so you can see clearly
#6 – A Plan. Written for you, by you.
#7 – Your own Journal and folder (for that non-hoovering homework).
Whether it’s lifestyle, relationships, diet, weight, fitness, career, parenting, ageing, mid-life malaise, this investment of time and intent will give you the gears you need to feel like you’re finally in the driving seat of your life.
Email me on firstname.lastname@example.org to Learn how to DESIGN your life, create a PLAN for living with intent, and feel UNSTUCK, unleashed and UNSTOPPABLE.