It’s resolution season again . . . but, truthfully, I’m not much for resolutions these days. Back in my teens and 20s, they were a staple when the calendar flipped to January: Exercise every day for at least 30 minutes. Avoid junk food. Track every single thing I eat. I usually stuck with them for a week or two, and then, like clockwork, the rigidity left me discarding them, one all-or-nothing goal at a time.
Statistics show that resolution abandonment is relatively common. Most people — around 80 percent, according to some estimates — give up on them by the start of February. And it can be hard to recommit and channel motivation once those ambitions fall to the wayside.
So in more recent years, rather than making resolutions on December 31, I’ve checked in on how I’m doing with the various aspects known to contribute to greater health and well-being. As I was thinking about them in preparation for writing this column, I realized they fall into the following buckets.
⋅ Surviving: These are the essentials we need to survive — food, water, air, and shelter. Once these are dependably in place, we can also consider their quality and whether they’re supporting our goals: Are we eating mostly whole, unprocessed food? Is our water clean? What is the air quality in the spaces where we spend most of our time? Is our shelter set up to keep us on track or distract us from good habits?
⋅ Supporting Health: At Experience Life and Life Time, we often refer to the pillars of a healthy way of life, or the habits and practices that contribute to physical and mental health. These include things like movement, nutrition, health awareness, sleep, stress management, and social connections: Are we moving in ways that feel good and empowering to us most days? Are we optimizing our food intake (see previous section!) with good nutrition and supplementation?
Are we meeting regularly with our healthcare professionals for relevant screenings or when we notice something seems off about our health? (See “Your Healthy Way of Life Calendar,” for tips on scheduling these appointments.) Are we getting plenty of sleep, managing our stress, and nurturing our relationships? Are we practicing self-care?
⋅ Thriving: This is my favorite category, though it’s also the easiest to overlook (at least in my experience). It includes things like joy, authenticity, purpose, growth, and beauty, and is about recognizing how we’re engaging and connecting. It’s about tapping into the things we love and are passionate about, being present and mindful, and noticing the beauty of the world around us.
Are we intentionally seeking out joyful, awe-inspiring moments and noticing them as they’re happening? Are we living with integrity? Are we making time for those light-us-up things or getting bogged down by all the to-dos?
As another new year approaches, I’m asking myself these questions and reflecting on how I’m doing in each of these areas: What have I been neglecting? Where have I been consistent and successful? What opportunities do I have for sustainable progress and improvement?
There’s no such thing as perfect in any of this — it’s more about flow, growth, opportunity, and self-support than all-or-nothings. So throughout the year, I keep checking in, noticing, and reassessing. It’s a practice, and according to the classroom motto of one of my daughter’s former teachers, “Practice makes progress.” I’m here for that.