The old ritual will soon be upon us. As January 1st approaches, the topic of “New Year’s resolutions” fills conversations at home and in the office. After all, this is the leading story on every morning television show as products promising resolution success are rife on social media feeds and influencer accounts.
New Year’s resolutions are a way for people to feel as though they are setting a goal. It gives them a start date, but more darkly, gives the diet and other “self-improvement” industries an incredibly profitable opportunity.
Every year, losing weight tops the list of resolutions in America. Does it not seem, that if any of the diet industry’s products actually worked, this goal would lose its annual number one status?
We need to recognize that we don’t have to wait for a certain date in order to commit to health, well-being, greater self-compassion, better relationships, or other worthwhile goals. We can recognize and reject New Year’s resolutions as the purely moneymaking gambit that they are, especially when it comes to products promising miraculous weight loss, cleansing from toxins, or other shallow transformations.
Real change takes time and practice. Resolving to change or better oneself is a process that requires patience. For those in recovery from an eating disorder or addiction, gearing up to make a New Year’s resolution and the pressure to stick with it can be a setup for a setback. Recovery is a process that began before January 1st and will continue long after it.
Therefore, I suggest we replace the word “resolution,” with three other “R” words to consider this holiday season.
1. Recommit: Ask yourself what your values are, especially the new ones you’ve discovered in recovery. Think about how you can recommit to them in the New Year. This decision is less about doing or not-doing. Instead, it involves a process of asking questions, discovering deeper truths and practicing self-compassion.
2. Restore: After recommitting to your values (or the process of discovering them), ask yourself what you can do to practice restoration and healing. How can you restore your relationship with yourself, your body, with food or exercise, with your family or friends?
3. Rejoice: Finally, ask yourself, what do I have to be grateful for? As you think of these things, rejoice! Smile, dance for joy, share your laughter with a friend, delight in your abundance. Making gratitude a daily practice helps open our eyes to the progress we have made, even when it is slower than we’d like it to be. It helps to give us the right perspective on our struggles.
As the New Year approaches, rather than resolving “to do” or “not to do,” let’s change the vocabulary of the holiday and reclaim it from the industries that only yearn to make money off of our thwarted hopes and failed resolutions.
When we recommit, restore, and rejoice, we can keep the progress of recovery going, and build a lifelong foundation for freedom that is independent of the date on the calendar.