Asking for a Friend: Should I Even Bother With a New Year’s Resolution?

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Why do you think typical resolutions don’t tend to work?

I think because they tap into our judgment of ourselves, and they put us in direct relationship with our inner critic. Usually, inner critics are very…critical! You know, we’ve got our innermost self pointing the finger at us, saying, “You should [X], you’re not good enough, you’re wrong, pick yourself up by the bootstraps,” all those kinds of authoritarian internal monologues. Rarely is that encounter with shame productive.

If resolutions aren’t a fit, what do you recommend people do to frame their expectations around the new year?

I recently did a short video on Facebook that was about the notion of choosing three words for the upcoming year. I’ve been doing that since 2012; I got the idea from a woman named Wendy Palmer, who writes books about embodied leadership and is also an aikido master. I think she just picks one word, but I like choosing three words. It’s about really choosing the tone of your year instead of setting yourself up with lots of goals that you may or may not accomplish, so we’re focusing on the being rather than on the doing.

What are your words for this year, if I may ask?

Sure! Resilient, value, and renewal. I watched a presentation by a psychologist and leadership professor from UC San Diego who had outlined the nine or 10 stages of COVID in terms of how the world is reacting to the disease, and the last stage was “renewal.” I was really curious about that; what does renewal mean? Can I renew myself at age 60?

I love that! Is there anything else you recommend for replacing resolutions?

Another way that people can kind of warm up to making changes is by setting an intention. For example, I want to have more physical movement in my life this year. That invites creativity, and it’s much more supportive. I’ve just taken up running, and of course, support is so important in anything; that’s why a lot of resolutions fail, because people say these things, but they may or may not get the support they need to enact them. So how do you get support? Well, like millions of people around the world, I’m running with Coach Bennett of…

…Nike Run Club?


I literally just got back from a Nike Run Club run!

Well, there you go. Encouragement like that can be really helpful.

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