It happens. You have big plans to only eat salad for dinner but then catch a whiff of your roommates burger and cave. And it's only Jan. 5. Don't waste time chewing on guilt. Enjoy the burger. There are many reasons why giving up a New Year's resolution isn't actually a bad thing. Give yourself some wiggle room. Lifestyle changes require patience, set backs and dedication. And, hey, your resolution may not even be as heavy as a ~lifestyle change~. If you spend too much time guilting yourself over breaking your resolution, you'll only find yourself stuck in a rut. Going easy on yourself allows for a new approach to try again, if you'd like.
We break little deals with ourselves on the regular. Just this morning I told myself I would stay away from dairy. On cue, my roommate trotted into the kitchen — where I was feasting on an apple — and presented a box of chocolate croissants. Croissants, I'm sure you know, are literally layered with butter. In less than 2 seconds of pondering I dug my hand into the box and picked myself the roundest croissant, robust with both butter and chocolate. Truth be told, I don't even feel bad about it. Self-inflicted guilt trips never lead to a positive destination.
First of all, life goes on. There will be more fitness classes scheduled. Fruit will continue to grow on trees. There are still pages in your journal for gratitude entries. Just because you gave up doesn't mean you have abandoned the resolution completely. If you have commitment issues, or in my case separation anxiety from butter, don't go all in at first. Ease yourself into the waters. Take a class once a week. Go on a jog. Have a bite. There are more opportunities to try that thing you've been meaning to do more of. If that thing is sucking every ounce of joy out of your life, maybe it wasn't worth it in the first place.
Literally every single person in this world has given up on a resolution. You are not the biggest, most fickle failure in the world. Not even in the least bit. So many people abandon their resolutions almost immediately into the New Year it's become a common joke. There's actually advice on why you shouldn't set New Year's resolutions. Resolutions put the pressure on to make a change immediately. And that kind of pressure can be too scary to follow through with right away when you feel you haven't had a proper goodbye to your habit of eating cereal for dinner. Give yourself a second to adjust to the New Year at least before ditching chocolate.
TIME reports that a Harvard Business School working paper, "Goals Gone Wild", writes, "(w)ith goals, people narrow their focus. This intense focus can blind people to important issues that appear unrelated to their goal." Basically, sometimes setting a resolution can draw attention away to larger issues at hand. Giving up on your resolution then could actually be a ~good thing~. You might open yourself to the whole picture of what you want to change instead of just one minor detail you figure you should be doing more of.
Becoming a new you is a process. It takes trial and error and a step back on that intense workout schedule you, in the moment, thought you could stay totally committed to. If you want to stick to a resolution, ease up on your expectations. Life happens. Croissants cross your path. That new movie your friend and you really want to see together is playing at the same time your cardio class is supposed to start. There's always a new day to re approach what you want to work on. Also, just so you know, you're fabulous right now.