Paradigm Shift: A New Perspective on New Year’s Resolutions



new year's resolutions posterI love new starts… Mondays, the first of every Month, Birthdays and, of course, New Years – they all bring the hope of a better self, out with the old and in with the new.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with new starts, I’m in the business of helping people change and begin again…that’s called HOPE.

The downside with focusing on “what I am going to do” emphasizes the future and many of us tend to live our lives thinking about what we are GOING to do, rather than engaging in life in this very moment.

Fighting Perfectionism with Mindfulness

I’m a long time sufferer of perfectionism and have learned to refocus my mind to think in less black and white terms. So when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions, I’ve become much more mindful in how I approach this task.

I no longer set myself for the big fall and shame-fest that occurs when I didn’t all of a sudden become this perfect person at the stroke of midnight New Year’s Day.

I used to spend hours in contemplation, making lists of expectations for every category of my life – work, relationships, organizational, financial, oh yeah, food and exercise with goals calculated out to the exact date I would reach my perfect weight.

Now I try to live my life mindfully, which means living in the moment fully, with non-judgment. I don’t evaluate everything and everyone, label things good and bad, especially me… that’s very exhausting.

But I’m not all fluff and no substance, I certainly have task lists.

There is certainly a need for responsible goals such as building retirement funds, but for me I can’t be overly focused on outcomes – I have to let that be. I can only change my attitude and behaviors, and those are processes, not the end result.

It’s kind of like intentions: intentions are process oriented; goals are outcome-oriented. Intentions give you something to focus on and point you in the right direction.

It may be just language, but it works for me.

“Mostly & Sometimes” New Year’s Resolutions

I also have started something that I call Mostly and Sometimes. It’s changed the way I think about things because it allows for balance and not perfection. Because, honestly, I can mostly do something…but rarely, in fact, never, always do anything.

So when I set intentions, it looks like this:

  • I mostly eat fruits and vegetable and sometimes I eat ice cream.
  • I mostly practice what I preach and mindfully eat and sometimes I wonder what happened to the chips in the bag in front of me.
  • I mostly ride my spinning bike and sometimes I don’t because I sleep in or something comes up.
  • I mostly stay present when someone’s talking to me and sometimes I drift off into the movies of my mind.
  • I mostly am productive and keep my focus in the day and sometimes I spend too much time on email.

Well, you get the gist.

Some people fear that they will spend too much time in the sometimes… and sometimes you will.

But once you step out of the world of black and white, on or off the wagon and always or never… you eliminate the destructive existence of waiting for when you are GOING to do or be something.

This “what the hell, I already screwed up anyway” attitude leads to shame and more destructive behavior. Then you find yourself waking up days, months, and sometimes years later, on New Year’s Eve saying, “tomorrow I will be perfect”.

Instead, try accepting a “mostly and sometimes” mentality to overcome the traditional New Year’s mentality.


2 responses to “Paradigm Shift: A New Perspective on New Year’s Resolutions”

  1. Laura W says:

    Thanks Kari! I’m (slowly) learning to embrace my imperfections and the joy and freedom that comes from not being perfect. When I step away from my black and white world, I can see (and appreciate) the colors of a rainbow, or a sunset, and just feel. Good. Healthy. Content.

    Wishing you an abundance of colors in the New Year!

  2. Kathleen says:

    Thanks, Kari. Great article. I shared it on FB with a group of friends who are in recovery for various addictions. Sometimes we talk about disordered eating, and I’ve been giving them information on how I established a mindful eating practice.

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