Perfectionism: Poison for New Year's Resolutions
Updated: Oct 6
Here we are again. A new year ahead of us, full of choices to make, paths to take, and for many of us, full of hope for change. Whether it’s changing our habits, our dressing styles, or even our beliefs, we begin the year hoping to hit the ground running on the changes we want to make.
For me, for example, a change I want to create in my life in 2023 is prioritizing my physical health. And I don’t mean losing weight or gaining weight, I mean making my body stronger and increasing my endurance, so I am better equipped physically to handle being in business for myself. And like many of us, I wanted to start my year off by hitting the gym first thing on January 2nd.
I made up a schedule of the times and days I could go, planned around my childcare needs, and even got new workout clothes and supplements to help me be ready. But then, on the evening of Jan 1st, I realized by preparing in the way I did, I had set myself up for failure.
Because I expected my body to be able to go from working out 0x/week in the past 6 months, to 5x/week overnight. I was literally going to run my body into the ground from exercise in the first week because I often feel the only acceptable amount of effort is 100%.
In reflection, this perfectionist view has been a double-edged sword for me in various parts of my life. On the one hand, it helped me excel in school and reach my educational goals, but on the other hand it also put so much pressure on me a few years ago that I burned myself out and had to quit my job to be able to function normally again.
My perfectionist tendencies also put pressure on my spouse and my elder son. Once I saw the effects of this on them, I realized I had to change. So, by catching myself on Jan 1st, I revised my plan and came up with one that doesn’t require me to give 100% all day, every day, for the next 12 months because it’s simply not doable for me.
I also had an epiphany and realized it wasn’t my perfectionism that helped me reach my goals in the past – I reached them despite it.
I believe reaching goals and resolutions require two elements (hint: neither of them is perfection).
The first is consistency. If you give 50% everyday towards reaching your resolutions for the next 6 months – this is still progress. In fact, this is more progress than you would make if you gave your 100% towards your resolutions for 2 months and then got tired of trying. This is what happens to a lot of us. We give our resolutions our all for a short period of time and when we don’t see the return of investment on our time spent, we give up. But if you are consistent in trying to reach your goal most days than not, then you’re more likely to get there than not.
The other element to reaching goals and completing resolutions is realism, and by that, I mean keeping it real. Be real with yourself about your true capabilities, strengths and weaknesses, which can affect your progress in reaching your New Year’s Resolution. Make your resolutions realistic, and attainable.
To continue with my example of becoming physically stronger – for me keeping my resolution realistic and attainable means starting with 1-2 days a week where I can spend 60mins or so on my physical health. Once I hit that goal consistently for 6-8 weeks, then I can add another day, and so on and so forth.
No one sets New Year’s resolutions to fail. But we do give up on them easier due to them being unrealistic and therefore hard to stay consistent with. Keeping resolutions realistic and being consistent with your effort are sure ways to help you reach your yearly goals.
Share your realistic resolutions and your plan to be consistent in the comments and let’s check in with each other at the end of the year to see how it went for all of us.
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