Leave Your Resolutions at the Door
By Stephanie Miller
Resolutions are so enticing. This time of year everyone talks about them, or more accurately they talk about failing to keep them. There’s something so alluring about the fresh, new year and all its possibilities. But I’m not making any resolutions and here’s why.
For years I obsessed about the idea that my hips were too square and my thighs were too long. It sounds ridiculous when I say it out loud but for years I scrutinized my body looking for the flaw that made me less than perfect. One area of relentless perfection was the pursuit of the perfect weight. The thing about being a perfectionist is that whenever I approach the goal I move the finish line. I’ll be perfect when I weigh 142 pounds. Well actually 138 pounds. Well now I think I should weigh 134 pounds. And on and on. I felt the same thing about my every aspect in my life. I’ll be perfect when I am married. I’ll be perfect when I get this job. I’ll be perfect when I buy this house. My thinking fuels an endless cycle and I always feel like I have come up a little short. In my experience, nothing fuels shame more effectively than perfectionism.
With my weight and many other things in my life I always fixated on some distant day when I would start a new diet or a new exercise program . This is what I call Monday Morning Thinking. I’ll start Monday. After Monday I will do this perfectly. This inevitably led to bingeing on Sunday afternoon before the new diet started. It was my way of counterbalancing the coming ‘perfection.’ Of course, that story always ended the same way. After a while I grew tired of eating perfectly or didn’t achieve the desired effect with my exercise goals and quit. This of course led to another round of shame, followed by a new Monday Morning. I repeated this cycle so many times I became exhausted by my own insanity.
What I do now is something I found actually works. I take one small step right now to get to me goal. I do it today and I don’t do it perfectly. To lose weight, I could just drink more water or try eating five fruits and vegetables a day. For larger goals, I set a timer for 15 minutes and do one thing that will help advance that goal. (It’s amazing what I can get done in 15 minutes a day.) Now, instead of feeling like a failure two days into a new year I’m pleased at my modest achievements and feel good about myself instead of like a loser (again).
So, I hereby give you permission to make absolutely NO NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS and enjoy 2018.
PS. Part of this email is excerpted from my upcoming book The Confessions of a Failed Perfectionist. Pre-order your copy here.