Overcoming Self-Improvement Fatigue


new year's resolutionsA recent Harris poll determined that the 10 most commonly made New Year’s resolutions are:

  1. Lose weight
  2. Budget responsibly
  3. Exercise more
  4. Get a new job
  5. Eat nutritious foods
  6. Improve stress management
  7. Quit smoking
  8. Improve relationships (with both humans and the more interactive deities)
  9. Stop procrastinating
  10. Set aside time for yourself

These are all worthwhile pursuits, but they all seem overwhelming. I think I need an Advil. Setting aside time for myself? Um, okay. Sure, I’ll get up 15 minutes earlier every day. For about three days, until I start pressing snooze. There goes that self time.

I haven’t decided what my New Year’s resolution will be. I’m still in the brainstorming stages. However, I’m pondering activities that could bring enjoyment while addressing multiple goals. Feel free to add suggestions to my list in the comments section, and feel free to borrow these ideas. I’m releasing them into the public domain.

  1. Take up a new hobby. Learning a new sport, for example, could improve relationships, enhance stress management, increase exercise and lead to weight loss. A more introspective new hobby, like learning to draw or learning a new craft, means setting aside time for yourself and improving stress management. Who knows? It may eventually lead to a new job. That’s what happened when I took up a new hobby called writing.
  2. Document your life. Buy a notebook. Join Instagram. Go through a self-help workbook. In whatever way, write down or photograph your life this year. If you’re worried about budgeting, record your spending. Start a food diary to record what you eat. When you exercise, write it down. When you smoke, write down what triggered you to get up and light up. Write in a journal when you’re stressed. Start a blog. Take photos of your family and share them with friends and extended family to improve your relationships. You’ll be surprised how much insight and empowerment you’ll gain just from living in a more mindful way.
  3. Find ways to play. Start playing board games or video games with your family. Get a sketchbook and draw when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Get a coloring book; you’d be surprised how many adults enjoy coloring. Play with your kids. Find new ways to play in your romantic relationships. Turn household chores into a game. Teach your kids new things by making learning playful.
  4. Invest in people. Join an adult education class in your community. A lot of towns offer cooking, exercise, language learning and other classes that can be ways to meet new people with common interests. Meetup.com is always a great way to find out what’s going on around you. Join a book group. Join Weight Watchers. Quit smoking with a group of people. Whatever resolutions you make, don’t be a lone wolf. You need the support of others. Visit your parents more often. If conversation is a drag, then mow their lawns or take them grocery shopping.
  5. Take a risk. Get out your bucket list, pick something and then do it. Going hiking in the Himalayas? You’ll have to budget for it, and you’ll have to get in shape for it. Write that short story that’s been brewing in your mind. Take one step toward starting your own business, like setting up a website or printing business cards. Are you hiding something crucial about yourself from other people? Stop procrastinating and come out of whatever closet you’re in—doesn’t have to be the gay closet, although it could be—so that you can live a more authentic life and improve your relationships.

Life is full of “shoulds.” We “should” be thin. We “should” be financially responsible. Most “shoulds” are good. For example, being at a good weight helps you live longer to enjoy your relationships. Instead of making a list for direct self-improvement, however, take a different approach that can help you to enjoy your New Year’s resolutions. You may even knock out a few of those “shoulds” in the process.

One thought on “Overcoming Self-Improvement Fatigue

  1. Melissa says:

    It’s a little eye-opening that the Top 10 list at the beginning of your article pretty much nails everything that bothers me about my life. So maybe my New Year’s resolution should be to stop overwhelming myself…hmm…

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