We have officially closed the books on 2019, therefore moving on to 2020. Who’s ready?! Incidentally, doesn’t matter if you are ready or not. It happens just as sure as kids fighting over Christmas break. NEW YEAR, NEW YOU. This statement seems to be plastered all over the place this time of year and it is seriously bugging me. NEW YEAR, NEW YOU has the feel there was something drastically wrong with our 2019 self. Subsequently meaning our 2020 self NEEDS to be a new person. We HAVE to get our act together. In fact, create a version of ourselves far removed from the pathetic 2019 version in our rearview mirror.
In my mind, this is simultaneously setting ourselves up for failure. While this may sound drastic, on the other hand, think about the implications of this mindset. If we march into this new year thinking everything about ourselves is wrong, full of regret, even shameful, what does this do to our ability to sustain change about one week into the NEW YEAR, NEW YOU?
At our core, we are who we are. Without a doubt, there will be those who disagree with me. But hear me out. I’m actually coming at this from the lens of God’s amazing creation. We are unique, special and beautiful in God’s eyes. If this is the case, then why do you HAVE to create a NEW YOU just because we’ve embarked upon a new calendar year. By all means, there are characteristics we can evolve to make ourselves a better person, Christian, friend, parent, spouse, neighbor, etc, taking the opportunity to Level Up. However, take a moment and revel in what amazing strengths God created in you. You are here for a purpose just as you are.
I think this is where the NEW YEAR, NEW YOU statement bugs me. It does not have to be a NEW YOU, but rather an Upgrading, Up Leveling or Evolving You.
NEW YEAR, NEW YOU
Obviously, I’m not blind to the fact NEW YEAR, EVOLVING YOU doesn’t have the same nice ring. Regardless, let’s talk about the meaning.
According to U.S. News & World Report, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail. 80%!! I loved the article by Daniel Wallen regarding the failures of New Year’s resolutions. One line stuck out to me: “You’re Treating a Marathon Like a Sprint.” As a Life & Career Coach, all I can say is #truth.
Despite the myriad of reasons resolutions or just goals in general are not accomplished, I want to focus for a moment on expectations. Imagine with me two very different scenarios:
You walk into 2020 focused on all of your failures from the previous year. You and your spouse argued. Your kids were rude in front of your mother-in-law and you snapped… on more than one occasion. The promotion you thought was all but inked fell through at the last minute. The scale crept UP another five pounds instead of decreasing by the ten you set out to hit. Fill in some “fails” as you think about this. At this point, clearly 2020 just HAS to be a NEW YEAR, NEW YOU.
NEW YEAR, EVOLVING YOU
Conversely, you walk into 2020 feeling positive about how you lived out the last year. In terms of parenting, your kids of course had their moments, but in hindsight really proved to you through action they are doing kind things for others. Additionally, you set out in 2019 to be more intentional about engaging conversation with them (read: put the phone down) and aside from August when you were all tired of each other from summer break, it was absolutely a success.
While the scale crept up a few more pounds, you feel in shape with better all-around well-being because you honored a work-out plan for the year. You and your spouse took a couples only vacation and showed the kids it’s important to focus on each other.
Not getting the promotion opened your eyes to perceived value at your company. This eye opener has you now considering a shift to something really lighting your soul on fire. Again, fill in some of your own wins here. In addition, view areas you want to focus on for 2020 as opportunities. NEW YEAR, EVOLVING YOU.
THIS to me is the difference in NEW YEAR, NEW YOU versus NEW YEAR, EVOLVING YOU.
Indeed, this undoubtedly has the art of spin hard at work (I was a PR major after all). However, which version of the above supports you more impactfully? Even sets you up for moving in a POSITIVE direction in a SUSTAINABLE way.
Just slightly different than the marathon version, right? You know the one… where you sprint out of the gates only make it to mile two before sputtering out and throwing in the towel.
Positive spin or not, NEW YEAR, EVOLVING YOU is starting to have a more soothing ring to it.
Now you have a more positive view of yourself. What is the next step? Where is your opportunity?
Here’s a hint… make it achievable. No, this isn’t cheating. It’s still considered a change, but making a sustainable change is about making a new HABIT. Additionally, why not use the power of momentum to further you towards your goals?
I’ll take you through one small but effective change for myself, as an example. I wanted to establish a more consistent bedtime this year. While I always thought I thrived as a night owl, I started to notice the toll on my body with the inconsistency of my bedtime routine. Bedtimes ranging from 8:30 pm when I was too exhausted to keep going one night. Conversely, 1 am the next night because I was on a roll. Circadian Rhythm for me was not a thing. (hint: not good)
First, I made a few negotiations with myself:
- This bedtime thing had to be reasonable.
- Weeknights between 10 and 10:30 pm.
- Weekend couldn’t be super regimented, or I would not stick with it. Goal for weekends then became about getting a minimum of 7 hours of sleep versus a set time.
- Putting away the phone and turning off the tv at 10 pm if not before.
Second, there needed to be a measurable success with the attempt:
- Feeling a difference in myself after one week, two weeks, etc.
- Quantifiable successes- increased time spent in REM and Deep sleep according to my FitBit, lowering resting heart rate.
Finally, the success of this has led to additional goals set:
- With the new focus on resting heart rate, I now want to get it below 60. Why? Well, why not? I’m already really close!
- Reading just 10 minutes before bed has also increased my sleep score for more restful sleep. There is an added goal of reading time now. Which is, of course, a win-win.
NEW YEAR, EVOLVING ME.
HAVE TO VERSUS WANT TO
I hope this example is resonating my point for you. It starts with one small step but being very intentional about it. This step then snowballs into another step and another. Maybe even a step you would not have created in the first place as it wasn’t on your radar before, like my resting heart rate!
Without a doubt, you will want the goal and strategies for achievement to be a WANT TO, versus a HAVE TO. Putting you at choice out of the gate. It should be noted, this is a biggie for me. Over the last year, I have changed my language. Moving away from have to, should, and need to statements. BE GONE non-choice words!!! If I’m setting out to do something, it’s because I WANT to.
Give it a try. Make a statement saying: “I HAVE to ______.” Now say the same phrase “I WANT to _____.” Your body even reacts to this language.
Of course, one could argue no one WANTS to unload the dishwasher. Feels like a have to, right? Reframe with me for a moment. I want clean dishes and an organized kitchen of an evening for a clean slate tomorrow. So, I WANT to clean out the dishwasher now, get it done, and I’ll be so much happier tomorrow when it comes time to make dinner. A means to an end. Knock it out. Okay, now let’s go!
I didn’t say you had to go into the kitchen screaming out chants like a cheerleader about your excitement over the dishwasher. All I’m suggesting here is looking at the task a little differently. It’s a means to an end for something you WANT, so theoretically the act of clearing out the dishwasher is a WANT as well. Not a need to, have to, should do item. In fact, make the choice. Do you want to do it or not? If you don’t and tomorrow you are frustrated with yourself, well make a different choice the next night.
There is great joy and freedom in choice. However, we too often forget we are at choice when it comes to making changes in our life.
SUMMARIZE NEW YEAR, EVOLVING YOU
The key to any goal is sustainable change. Furthermore, sustainable change typically doesn’t happen by going from couch potato to marathon runner in a week. Change takes time, but it has to start somewhere. Why not start with one small change.
As you look to your 2020, try something a little different than previous years. Focus on the positives. Focus on your strengths. Give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done in 2019.
Now look for opportunities of personal growth and figure out one small change. Focusing on the following:
- Want to language for your change
- Achievable and reasonable goals and strategies to get there
- The feeling you want out of accomplishment
It’s a NEW YEAR, time to EVOLVE YOU into the best version of yourself. Enjoy the process!
If you’re always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be. – Maya Angelou