Are you struggling with maintaining your New Year’s resolutions? Check out this episode of The Resilient Self Podcast, where Chris Neal helps you find new motivation to reach those goals!
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- What’s wrong with New Year’s resolutions
- What to do instead
- How to structure your goals for success
- How to find alignment between your values and actions
New Year’s resolutions can be real shame triggers if we don’t proceed with intentionality. In this episode, Chris shows you how.
Check out show notes and find related content at https://theresilientself.com.
[Note: Links in this article may be affiliate links. You will pay the same price, but we may receive a commission that helps support publication of The Resilient Self.]
Hi everybody. Welcome to The Resilient Self. We’re here to talk about the human experience, mental health, wellness, relationships, and of course how we bounce back when things don’t go as planned. Thanks for being here. Let’s get started.
Hey everybody, welcome to the Resilient Self Podcast. I’m Chris Neal. Excited to be here with you this week, and today we’re going to talk about New Year’s resolutions. Specifically, I have a question for you. Are your New Year’s resolutions already failing you?
Now, I have to begin with a confession. My confession is that I’m not really a fan of New Year’s resolutions. We, we start January 1st, which I don’t know about you, to me, it just feels kind of arbitrary. Why January 1st? I know it’s the new year, I get that, but it’s also the middle winter. Even though it’s New Year, we don’t need a new you. The existing you is enough. I’m all on board with personal development and finding ways that we think we can find our life groove a little better. I think there’s a distinction though, and my concern is that a lot of times New Year’s resolutions grow out of this.
This assumption that the person that I’m bringing into December 31st just somehow is a failure on some or many levels, and I just don’t think that’s helpful or healthy for us. And so why are New Year’s resolutions always these gigantic changes? I’m going to lose 75 pounds, I’m going to drop 12 sizes or whatever. I think. So often we make goals for ourselves in a resolution that are not attainable and they’re not well constructed. We forget them measly, we get off track. And so to me, it’s so easy for those just to become a great big old shame trigger for us. And, and as we’ll talk a lot about on this show, shame is the enemy. It’s the enemy to progress. It’s the enemy to relationships, communication, empathy, compassion, on and on and on. So let’s talk about how to make your goals more attainable and more useful for you.
For starters, write them down. Putting it out on social media does not count as writing it down in my book. If you want to have goals, write them down somewhere that you will encounter them regularly. Maybe a journal, maybe put them on your fridge, whatever. And we want 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 5 qualities to these goals that are going to make them much more effective for you and make you better able to reach them. One, they need to be specific. And so instead of saying something like yeah, I’m going to lose a bunch of weight this year, or I want to look great in a swimsuit, all that’s really subjective. And, and there’s really no way to measure that. So you really have no way to know if you’ve met your goal or not. If you say, I want to lose 17 pounds, that’s a step in the right direction. Why? Because you can measure that.
You can, you can monitor your progress and you can tell. Now, the other thing I encourage you to do, if you’re on the, because so many people are on the weight loss thing, right? Everyone joins a gym come January, then they all quit by April. Not all, all but many. If you’re going to write a goal down about personal fitness, why don’t you talk with an expert in that field first? Now, I’m not talking about someone you follow on Instagram, I’m talking about a real expert who really knows what they’re doing, not someone who claims to be a health coach and is selling you something. I’m talking about a real expert who’s got, you know, a kinesiology degree or some training is, is a dietician, is a personal fitness expert who’s actually trained and, and certified in these things and work with that person to create meaningful goals.
Maybe looking at things like body fat percentage or muscle mass or things like that can actually maybe be a lot more useful for you. But whatever your goals are, make them specific. That way you at least know if you’re on track when you do that. So specific and measurable. If I’m going to focus on number of pounds, I want to be able to step on that scale and see how I’m doing. Attainable. And I would add onto that, if you have weight loss goals for the year, attainable and healthy again, work with your fitness expert, with your medical professional and yeah, I, the idea of dropping a whole bunch of weight and looking awesome and people really praising your social media, you rack up the likes and get that dopamine rush. Sure, it feels great, but to be honest, losing 150 pounds in three months isn’t healthy.
At least not as I understand it, <laugh>. So make sure that not only attainable, but practical and healthy for you. Because if you say, I’m going to lose 150 pounds by April 1st, and then it doesn’t happen, you just feel like you failed and, and we don’t want that. We want you to feel great about it. When you set goals so attainable, realistic, and timely, we want to have a time that we want to have achieved these goals for goals to be really meaningful for you. You want them to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, any one a time some kind of a timeliness function, and you can edit those. You know, the first thing you write doesn’t have to be the end result of the goal. Hopefully through a little bit of intentionality and editing, you can land on goals that that serve you pretty well.
Friends, we hope you’re enjoying all the content here at the Resilient Self. If you’re wondering how you can support our work on the show, we’ve made it super easy. You can check out the show notes or head over to our website though resilient self.com and click on the link that says, buy me a coffee. Now, you’re not actually buying me a real cup of coffee, but through a one-time donation or an ongoing membership, you’re helping with the development and production costs of the show. When you take this step, you’re helping us bring the resilient self to others all over the world. So if you want to help us, pay it forward, this is the easiest way. And please know that we deeply appreciate your support at any level.
Those of you who know me personally, know I, I spent several years as a, as a music teacher, when your preparation as a musician isn’t. Because if I show up to my lesson, my professor’s going to clobber me if I’m not ready, which is true in many cases, <laugh>, but, but that’s not the most effective way to do that. I used to beg my students, look, if you will build in a practice of practice where you understand that the reason I do this is not because my professor’s going to get me, the reason I do this is because I am a musician. I’m a performing artist, and this is what performing artists do. Now translate that to whatever your personal thing is, whether you’re an athlete or a business professional or you know, whatever. When, when you take on those habits as a function of your understanding of yourself as a, as a participant in that community is one of your core values, then the outcomes I, I find often take care of themselves and it just is a lot more organic.
Now, let’s go to one of my favorite and most far-reaching ways to enact meaningful personal change. When we focus on developing self-compassion, that is a powerful, powerful thing for our personal development journey. And you’re going to hear me talk about self-compassion a lot on this show because I think it is one of those ninja level things that just helps us with resilience. It helps us build relationships, it helps so many things. Let me start by just reminding you that self-compassion, it, it’s not about affirming your bad behavior. It’s not when you know, if you’re, if you’re trying to lose weight and you spend a week eating Twinkies, then it’s not saying, oh, okay, it’s okay that I ate those Twinkies. I have self-compassion. No, that’s not what that is. But I think we want to look at this process we go through when we are trying to adapt our behavior.
Let’s start with the understanding that your brain has one basic job and that basic job is to help you survive a complex and dangerous world. Now, it does that in many, many ways, and once we start to look at those, many of them feel kind of counterproductive. But that’s the basic job of your brain pro protect you from a complex and dangerous world. One of the ways it does that is, is it tends to push you away from those things that are intolerable, right? So if we have a growth mindset, then failure is data, right? And so data is important for how do we not do that? Again, how do we stop failing? However, if if we are landed more in it fixed mindset, then failure is really kind of intolerable and it leads to shame. Shame being this sense that we’re not enough, that we’re not good enough, we’re not whatever enough.
And that’s very uncomfortable. It’s very, it’s very bad for us, and it leads us into all kinds of dark places in our own psyches. And so the brain goes, Hey, you know, this is not cool. And so I’m going to, I’m just going to try to pull you out of that whole thing. So the brain leads us towards resistance and avoidance, which psychologically makes a lot of sense. It’s like, okay, this little thing over here where I’m trying to lose weight, but I can’t put the donuts down, and I just kind of go in this cycle and I just beat myself up and I feel bad and I feel horrible and I feel low and I’m not making any progress. And so the brain says, psychologically, this is unacceptable. So we’re just going to kind of pull you out of that you’re not on, you’re not going to go on it, you’re not going to try to lose weight anymore.
You’re just going to go eat what you want. And then you feel bad about it again. And so it just builds that cycle of shame. How does self-compassion help us with this? If self-compassion doesn’t tell you it’s okay, when you made the mistake, I think it, it does help us accept little failures, but it puts an entirely different spin on it. Part of self-compassion. Part of compassion requires radical honesty. We have to be honest with ourselves and with others about where we’re at and what’s going on. Now, radical honesty, also, I think it, it, it has to be with kindness. And so I’m going to paraphrase, there’s a roomy quote, I don’t remember it exactly, but, but he talks about three gates before you speak. Let your words pass through three gates. Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind? Okay? Cause it’s true. Doesn’t mean it needs to come out of your mouth.
And just because it’s true doesn’t mean it needs to get real estate in your own brain. Is it necessary for you to ruminate about that? And is it, are you being kind to yourself? All right, so, so when we have self-compassion what we’re doing is we’re looking into the truth of something and then we’re, we’re, we’re holding space for that. So let’s say I’m trying to lose a bunch of weight and suddenly I I, I fall off the wagon and I eat a bunch of donuts. One option would be to say, well, Chris, man, you’re such a, you’re such a loser. You, you can’t even put down a donut. How are you ever going to lose 40 pounds? You might as well just give up now, right? That’s, that’s the, the cycle that it’s so easy to go through. Instead, if we can do something like,
“Okay, Chris, you, you fell off the wagon. Okay, let’s look at that. Honestly, you know, okay, well those two donuts, were in the context of a week of pretty healthy eating. And so we don’t have to awfulize that. Yes, you didn’t follow exactly what you wanted to do, but in the grand scheme of things, is it awful? Probably not. And in response to that splurge, you did go out and go for a walk that night. And so you tried to care for yourself and you tried to help yourself.”
And so what we’re going to do is we’re going to continue to work on this, and we’re going to realize that when we make mistakes it doesn’t mean we’re awful. It doesn’t mean we’re failures. It means we made a mistake and we are human self-compassion helps us recover a little faster because it kind of breaks that shame cycle. It helps us get out of that thing where we’re just beating ourself with that shame bat.
You, ate a couple donuts, right? Moving on, right? And it helps you leave that where it is and return to the here and now. And the here and now is where you feel like you still would like to be on that weight loss journey. And so you’re going to move forward with that and you’re going to not continue to beat yourself with that bad. So self-compassion work, we’ll talk a lot about self-compassion work. So if you want to know more about self-compassion, definitely check out more of our more of our episodes and hit the website because there’s going to be a ton of content on that. It’s easy to make resolutions or goals about things that aren’t necessarily the best for us. And, and sometimes getting to a healthy place means changing your eating. Maybe it means changing your movement sometimes. Maybe it means getting some counseling and processing old trauma.
Maybe it means building a support network of people who actually deserve to be in your orbit. I’m not one who believes that you know, what you do necessarily defines you as a person. I think it, I think it’s the other way around. I think who you are as a person influences what you do. And I think that sometimes stress and overwhelm and pain and trauma can cause people to act outside their own value system. I do think that good people can make bad choices out of stress and trauma and bad feelings. It’s inexplicable, it’s frustrating. It, it is hard, but I believe it to be true. And so the more we can go back to investing in who we are and then focusing on things of real value, okay, is loo is losing 20 pounds of real value. Yeah, maybe, but in the context of, Hey, I’ve got all this trauma that I need to process.
And when I can do that, when I’m feeling better emotionally and physically, and I can form relationships that are meaningful and sustaining for me, boy, it’s a heck of a lot easier to have healthy habits, to have exercise buddies or to have people just to encourage you and lift you up. So not so fast on the outward goals. Think about those things that really need to feed you. And sometimes those things that feed the heart and the soul will go a long way to, to helping the other parts of your existence thrive. I’m a I’m a big fan. I, I I talk a lot, a lot, a lot, a lot about mind, body, and spirit as an ecosystem that has relationships surrounding it. You’re, you’re going to see this all over the place in, in my materials, okay? Mind, body, spirit encircled by relationships.
That’s the ecosystem. And I think that the things that we can do to grab the major, to grab as many of those different things as possible and encapsulate those into an activity are the things that can really provide meaningful change for us. And just things that align with your values. God, isn’t it easy to get sucked into caring about things that don’t matter? Don’t forget, we have an industry in this country and worldwide that is built on instilling shame with you. I don’t mind the advertising industry for, for letting me know about new products that I might want. That’s okay. However, that’s not what they do. The advertising industry has a gazillion sneaky ways to tell you you’re not enough. And I’m telling you folks, don’t believe it. Do not believe the hype when you’re, when you’re not, not feeling like you’re meeting your goals.
The first thing I want you to do is I want you to turn inward. I want you to sit with that and see how those goals that you’re thinking about actually fit you in having a values driven experience. Thanks so much for being with me today. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to interact with you. And my hope is that that’s not a one way interaction. My hope is that we can start a conversation and those things are co-created. And so I invite you to reach out to me as you can and let me know what you think, how you’re doing and all that good stuff. Thanks again for being here and I’ll see you next week. The Resilience Self is a production of Insight Media LLC. The information presented on the show and at theresilienceself.com is intended to educate and entertain and should not be considered as legal, medical, or psychological advice or as therapy of any kind. The information presented should not be used to diagnose or treat any psychological, psychiatric, or medical condition. While we make every effort to present accurate and insightful information, the host, guests and Insight Media l l c make no warranty that the information presented here will be applicable in your situation or location. Opinions expressed in the show do not represent those of Insight Media LLC, their ownership or employees.