The inspiration for this blog comes from a food magazine. I read cookbooks and food magazines like they are novels (please don’t judge). Truthfully, I find the topic of food fascinating but that has nothing to do with the purpose of this blog.

Americans have a love-hate relationship with New Year’s resolutions. A new year inspires so many of us to set goals, re-invent ourselves, and to have a fresh beginning. Think about it … how many times have you gone to the gym in January to find it jam packed with motivated patrons to then find the crowd gradually dwindle after 2 or 3 weeks? It happens every single year.

The problem with New Year’s resolutions are not the resolutions themselves. Rather it is how we word them and what we tell ourselves. Too often we set extremely lofty goals. Here are a few of my favorites:

– I will avoid sugar at all costs (definitely one I have tried)

– I will go to the gym 5 days per week.

– I will not yell at my children.

– I will be completely vegan starting now.

– I will not eat carbs (me again)

– I will read 52 books this year (this might have been mine too)

And so on…

If you are someone who thinks sugar should be a food group, salivates anytime bread is within smelling distance, has never had a vegan dish or researched being vegan, hasn’t stepped into a gym in ages, or falls asleep after reading two paragraphs, you are destined to abandon your New Year’s resolutions within the first week. And when that happens, you are likely to think, “I failed” or “I lack discipline”, instead of wondering if your goals are too lofty or there are too many to tackle at one time.

It is my opinion that we do not take enough time to consider why we set the resolutions we do. What is it you are trying to achieve? Why is that goal important to you? How does attaining that goal enhance your life, your well-being, and connect with what you value?

This is where the 3 R’s come in. I present these to you in reverse order. The article I read in my favorite food magazine offered me one of the R’s: Revolution. The year offers an opportunity for a journey within us. The end goal is not simply an accomplishment of specific goals, but to hopefully elicit a fundamental and sustainable change.  Which leads me to the second R: Rejuvenation. At the end of the revolution around the sun, do you feel stronger, more whole, more content, more successful, more confident? Do you feel invigorated and inspired?

To get to Revolution and Rejuvenation, one must engage in Reflection – the 3rd R. It is important to have some clarity as to why you are setting particular resolutions. I want to encourage you to take time to reflect on what you value, what is missing in your life,  and what behaviors or habits need to change in order for you to be the kind of person you want to be or have the kind of life you want. Also, reflect on potential challenges and barriers that could make it difficult for you to stick to your resolutions.

For example, say you want to be vegan. Ask yourself, why is veganism the right choice for me at this time in my life? Perhaps you don’t believe in animals being used as a source of food or you want to help protect the environment. Or you have done your research and think a plant-based diet is the best for you. Whatever the reason, it is essential to reflect on why this change is wanted/needed and create a plan to follow through on the resolution. If you jump into veganism without reflection and planning, you are likely to not follow through because becoming vegan is not as easy it as it may appear. When you consider the implications for meeting your nutritional needs and lifestyle adjustments, it can be quite the undertaking.

Resolutions that are connected to what we value have the greatest potential to be realized. Additionally, resolutions that are broken down into smaller, measurable, and manageable parts (think SMART goals) will increased motivation and commitment. So, if you want to be vegan, start by eliminating a few food items at a time with suitable (and nutritional) substitutes. Instead of committing to 5 days in the gym at the start, commit to increasing physical activity for a few minutes each week and gradually increase at manageable increments.

As you begin this next revolution around the sun, don’t forget to do some intentional reflection on the ways in which you want to rejuvenate your life.

There are lots of great resources out there to help you stick with your resolutions including daily habit planners and health-oriented apps.  And inspiration often comes from unlikely sources.

Happy New Year!