Every where you look this time of year, there's this catchy phrase front and center: New Year, New You. The idea that the mistakes of the past don't have to matter or should be forgotten as you strive to become a different (or better) person than you were before. You can overcome unhealthy life choices, erase bad behavior, eliminate the errors of the past year and do something wholly different. Let this year be the year you make all those changes you've been wanting to make! Shed all the issues that have been holding you down, shake off all the reservations holding you back. All you need is the resolve to become a new you! The problem, as I view it, with this idea is that it leaves you feeling like a failure when you don't live up to your own resolutions. It's an all-or-nothing approach that gives no quarter for the simple truth that you're human and fallible.
Ingrained behaviors are notoriously hard to change, and an arbitrary date on the calendar doesn't necessarily make change simpler. Often, people are pretty good with whatever for a couple of weeks, start to lose determination mid-month and begin to revert, and then by the end of January... backslide city. It seems to me that all-or-nothing rarely works. Resolutions smack up against reality and reality usually wins. I think goals make more sense, from a continuity standpoint. Goals aren't a hard and fast thing you must do. They're something to strive for - a thing to work toward. As a result, they remain in the forefront of your mind without being something you mentally shame yourself for not working toward every choice you make.
I'm making some changes (already started), but I'm NOT leaving myself behind. The person that is me is not a piece of clothing to be discarded with changing trends. I own my mistakes. I also own my successes and failures, missteps and purposeful strides. I'm not making resolutions - I'm setting goals. Instead of giving myself a list of things I must force myself to do, I am creating a set of things I would like to do and then figuring out what steps I have to take to accomplish those goals.
Happy New Year. May you find some goals to work toward, wherever you believe you need improvement. I'll be over here, working on mine.