Why Your New Year's Resolution is Not Self-Care

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We are at the start of another brand new year and many well-intentioned, motivated individuals have resolved to make a change that will improve their life in 2024. New Year’s resolutions came about because the new year marks an obvious beginning to a fresh start, a blank slate, a chance to start the year of “right”. It is the impetus to finally doing that thing you always said you would do to experience a healthier, happier or more productive year. That all sounds good, doesn’t it? You might even feel that a New Year's resolution goes hand in hand with kicking off an effective self-care practice this year.

Unfortunately, the concept of a New Year's resolution, as most of us understand it, is flawed. This is why so many struggle to stick with a resolution for a month, much less a full year.

Even the most well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions will almost always fail because the way in which most people go about implementing one creates road blocks that undermine their success.


Below, are three reasons why New Year's resolutions are not self-care and why this is good news for those who want to enjoy the benefits resolutions fail to deliver.


Reason #1 - Resolutions are on a timeline that is not yours.

By definition, a New Year's resolution requires that you begin on January 1st. It’s a new Year, a fresh start. If you don’t start on this day, you will miss having a memorable date to look back on and say “this was the first day of the rest of my new and improved life”, or some other such nonsense.

This sentiment just creates an overinflated sense of urgency, a perception that you need to start now or never. So, you do one of two things, you rush onto something new without any real thought or preparation and so you fail (more on this later) or you just don’t start at all. You figure, “If I’m not ready now, then why bother? I’ll try again when the next “clean slate” comes around. Like maybe next year.”

But this reasoning is just another hurdle, an excuse to put off something that makes you feel uncomfortable. Because change is uncomfortable.

The truth is, every minute is a clean slate and the perfect time to try again. A new year, a new month, a new week or even a new day is not a good reason to feel pressured to start fresh. You might have completely blown it just this morning but, this afternoon, you can still make a choice that best serves your well-being.

Self-care, in its simplest form, is any action you take that nurtures your well-being. This means that, when it comes right down to it, effective self-care means choosing to do the thing that best serves your well-being over the one doesn’t. It really is as simple as that!

It doesn’t matter what you chose the last time you made a decision. That’s over and done. For better or worse, it’s in the past and it can’t be changed. All that matters, going forward, is the choice you will make next time.


Reason #2 - Resolutions are all or nothing.

When you make a New Year's resolution, you are promising that you will make a change on January 1st and stick with it every day for the rest of the year. New Year's becomes the turning point, the day everything changed regarding your resolution. "I haven't done this or that since January 1st." Or, "I have done such and such every day since." Either you stick to your resolution perfectly, from now on, or you’re a failure.

But this is exactly why New Year’s resolutions are not self-care.

Because, self-care is a practice.

By definition, there is no perfection in practice and, like anything else you practice, effective self-care requires time to learn and to develop skill. It requires making mistakes so that you can learn what works for you and what doesn’t.

This means that you must have the freedom to be flexible and adaptable. You need to be allowed to adjust, try again, and repeat as many times as needed. And, if necessary, you have to be free to let go of any self-care action that isn’t positively impacting your well-being and do so without feeling guilty or judged. That’s huge!

As a caregiver, your circumstances are always changing and your self-care needs change with them. What you need will change from month to month or day to day.  This means that your practice needs to change along with your circumstances and you are going to have to re-evaluate what those needs are from time to time.

These evaluations will not always be accurate and so your self-care practice will not always be successful.  That’s ok! You do not have to practice self-care flawlessly to experience a positive impact on your well-being.

Remember, self-care is never wasted. Every self-care action you take, no matter how small or imperfect, builds on the benefits of the last and lays a foundation for the next.


Reason #3 - Resolutions are too broad.

Do you know what the most popular New Year’s resolution is?

It’s resolving to lose weight.

No surprise there. Weight loss is big business. There are a thousand ways to approach a goal like this, which is exactly why it’s a terrible resolution.

Most New Year’s resolutions are like this, broad open-ended statements about what you would like to experience, like loose 20lbs, but they say nothing of an actual plan to get you there. As a result, you wake up on January 1st all ready to… well, what exactly? You have no idea. So, you don’t, and eventually your resolution falls to the wayside and you have gained nothing but guilt.  

Now, to be clear, I am not against goal setting. Goals are great and it’s pretty much impossible to accomplish anything of value without one. The key is in the approach. You need to have a goal that is focused on you and what you need, not on someone else. You need to be clear about what you hope to gain and on the actions you will take to get there. 

As I said, self-care at its core is a choice. However, living life one choice to the next is what I call “self-preserving self-care” and we are not meant to stay there.

READ MORE: The 3 Levels of Self-Care You Need to Know

Your goal should be to create a self-care practice that sustains you over time. This requires a clear mindset about what self-care is and what it can do for your well-being. It also requires a strategy that breaks through the overwhelm of self-care, takes that broad and open-ended goal and breaks it down so that you can focus on one self-care action that will address your current self-care needs and bring you closer to a self-sustained well-being. 

All of this might sound overwhelming. But it’s really not. Not when you have a step-by-step guide that shows you how to create a self-care practice that serves your needs and circumstances with minimal discomfort and disruption, and increases the odds that you’ll stick with it and actually experience the benefits you long for. That guide is The Parachute Project™ and here you will find the resources you need to finally overcome those hurdles that get in your way.



Self-Care Action Discussed in this Post:

Skip the New Year's resolution and use The Parachute Project™ as a guide to learn how you can create a self-care practice that makes effective self-care realistic and attainable in your caregiving role.



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