It's that time of year again when we all look at our lives and determine what it is we want to improve upon. Ok, let's be honest. Resolutions typically revolve around what we don't like about ourselves.... our diet, our temperament, our lack of exercise or not being the best person we know we can be. I know mine usually do. And by the end of January, if I'm lucky, they have fallen by the wayside and put back on the list for next year.
So why aren't we successful in keeping these promises to ourselves, the most important person in our lives? While reflecting on why mine usually fail, I had a revelation. Resolutions are synonymous with occupations and life roles and routines. Funny, as it's the basis of the field of occupational therapy and here I am, failing at it every year! So what if for 2019 I pick an occupation I want to work on and start to adapt that to how I want it to look?
Occupations are everything we do in a day... eating, exercising, working, seeking out leisure like crafts, woodworking, gardening. Hey look, resolution material! Here's what I'm thinking: for example, let's look at the resolution of improving diet and nutrition. To achieve this resolution, we need to create healthier meals, whatever that looks like (sugar detox, keto, paid for diet plans). This goal involves making menus for the week, grocery shopping, meal preparation and clean up, as well as hydration and exercise. That in and of itself seems daunting regarding changing routines in ALL of those areas. No wonder I have failed. For each one of those tasks it takes 21 days to create a habit or routine!
That's where the OT in me had an ah-ha moment, maybe long over due. What if I break down the overall occupation of maintaining a healthy diet (dream) into each component activity (goal) so that I can succeed in little steps, one task at a time each month (plan)? Maybe in January I could focus on buying more fruits and veggies (action), cutting them up for the week and making sure that I eat them everyday for lunch instead of throwing them out in a week because I forgot about them. In February I could focus on drinking more water and eating a healthy breakfast BEFORE work, in addition to my January achievements of fruits and veggies for lunch. March could bring a week at a time of meal planning, with grocery shopping on certain days making a concrete routine and habit within my role as wife and mother. All of a sudden, I have made diet changes to 3 meals a day over a period of time. Now, this resolution of improving diet and nutrition doesn't seem as daunting compared to my usual "January 1st all this must change or bust". It is truly looking more like a life change. And this life change can be my new reality. How simple to use this new perspective...and why did it take me so long to realize this step by step approach when it's what I preach everyday?!
And so to you I say, Happy 2019 a few days early. Let us all start January with a simple occupation that you want to change. Break it down into smaller pieces and spread it out over time to make it more routine, rather than jumping in gang busters. You may be surprised if by June you are still hanging onto your "resolution" and creating a new reality that's all about YOU! CHEERS!
I'll keep you posted on mine.