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The Only Resolution You Need to Make

Photograph by Twenty20

Admit it, you've got resolution fever. With 2016's meteoric approach you've already started jotting mental notes. You know, the master list of grand schemes you're hatching for the New You come January 1.

I've got a secret: You only need one.

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It might sound cheesy, but hear me out.

Everything about our fetishization of resolutions reeks of magical thinking. Don't get me wrong; I am all about making lists, setting goals, refreshing and resetting. Still, I can't help but wonder why anyone buys into a set up that is, by nature, designed for imminent failure. Do we really believe that change is going to happen perfectly because the clock moves an inch?

As someone who for years was a resolution whore, I have been in RR (resolution recovery) and it feels great. Here's why. Without the high of expectations and perfection, there is no low when by January 15, I've achieved nothing on my list.

Give yourself a break to be human. That's self love.

If you want to avoid hitting your doctor up for Prozac in January when you haven't come close to meeting your deductible, side-step #resolutionfail depression by committing to one thing: more self-love.

Note: I am not a doctor, but I played one on TV for 15 years. Oh wait, that was a paramedic. Carry on …

The No. 1 way to fail at resolutions is to make them in the first place. Resolutions are historically "shooting for the stars" life-changes, about-faces and sharp-turn-arounds that are impossible to achieve overnight, let alone in a lifetime. Change takes work people!

I can't tell you how many years I sputtered out, "Just one more cigarette. I have five more minutes!" only to smoke one at 12:15 a.m. and another 10 minutes later. Now that I "totally ruined it," I deemed myself a "failure," doomed to another whole year of smoking. Why not? "I already fucked up." Cue the self-hatred. That's no way to start a new year, but it happens every time.

Smoking is a tricky one, and the best way to quit is by picking a firm date. So why not try January 15 and commit to the first two weeks of January to getting mentally prepared? You will be instantly absolved of New Year's Resolution Pressure, which I firmly believe to be a curse of doom. Give yourself a break to be human. That's self love.

Because when you make a sweeping resolution set to a clock, one slip can feel like a such a major bungle, followed by a spiraling feeling of failure, self-doubt and shame. It's nearly impossible to get back up.

Think about it this way: Tomorrow is another day, and every day is an opportunity to make changes. But change happens slowly, over time, with one foot in front of the other. And growth happens when you are in a safe place, not with a stern over-arching eye of expectation. The only resolution that will ever really work is the resolution to continue on your path of growth and do it in baby steps, with a hefty allowance for mistakes and set-backs. In other words, be gentle on yourself.

Accept that you are fallible and imperfect. That my friend, is hardcore self-love. (You see how this works?)

Suffering addictions and recovering from them doesn't happen by writing things down on a legal pad and saying that when the clock strikes 12:01 a.m., they will magically "be gone."

And let's discuss setting ridiculous goals. Come on, by now you know yourself. (I hope). Think back on what works and what doesn't and be honest about it. "30 days, NO SUGAR!" Yeah, been there and done that crock of shit. I have never gone 30 days without anything. Deprivation of sugar (for example), is a recipe for destruction. The more you "can't" have something, the more you want it because all you're thinking about is the object of this forbidden desire.

How about trying something different like: I can have sugar whenever I want! Watch what happens. It's no longer at the forefront of your brain, because it's available at all times. Why not shift your thinking around things you want to eliminate in your life by not demonizing them, or you, for wanting them?

If you suffer from a legit sugar addiction, eating disorder or struggle with food in a way that greatly impacts your life, this time maybe try saying to yourself, "I'll take it out of my hands and check out some Overeaters Anonymous meetings in February." Give yourself the space to mull over if it's right for you. Suffering addictions and recovering from them doesn't happen by writing things down on a legal pad and saying that when the clock strikes 12:01 a.m., they will magically "be gone." Give yourself some real sugar in the form of emotional and psychological honesty.

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But wait! You don't have to miss out on all the "New Year, New Me" fun. I am not immune to the excitement around the new year as a symbol of a clean slate. I just like to see the year as a whole. And if you're a note-taking, list-making junkie like myself, then go for it by making honest notes about the areas in your life you need to give some extra "love and attention" to. It's a softer approach.

Learning to love takes time, especially when it comes to ourselves. If we really examine our typical resolutions, they often are about breathing love into the love-deprived areas of our lives (fitness, work, relationships, health). Think about it.

Now go hug it out! (With yourself, of course)

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