Why New Year Affirmations Feel Better Than Resolutions
New year, new me, right? At least that is what I always end up telling myself at the top of every new year. Right in that sweet spot of time where everything feels joyous, everyone seems loving, and anything seems possible.
It goes without saying that New Years is a particularly perfect time to revamp your life. Why is it then that so often I find myself several months into the year and notice that the only real change I’ve made concerns two little numbers at the end of the date when I am filling out paperwork. Is this completely my fault? Should this lack of progress be attributed to my own laziness and lack of commitment?
In my experience, it is very easy to let the idiosyncrasies of life drive me away from my beginning-of-the-year resolutions which, at some point or another, get completely abandoned altogether. This year I am ready for a change.
A friend recently asked me why it is that I make New Year's resolutions at all, especially when I confided to her that I rarely, if ever, keep them. The truth is, I really do think it is important for individuals to continuously reinvent themselves. Of course, it does not always have to involve a drastic change, but there is nothing wrong with a little bit of a challenge. Pressure, after all, does make diamonds. That being said, what is it that takes place between the months of January and December that makes it so hard to act on this reinvention, and to follow these resolutions through? The answer is...everything.
Unpredictability is one of life’s virtues; it kind of comes along with this whole gig of living. Slowly but surely, I am realizing that making concrete decisions about a New Year’s resolution when the year has not even begun is practically a set up for disappointment.
Trying to stick to a resolution becomes more difficult as life continues to unfold throughout the new year. Take a personal example. At the start of 2018, one of my New Year's resolutions was to make more money. I wanted to wake up feeling as luxurious as Rihanna when she was caught making out with a Saudi Arabian billionaire while sipping champagne in a hot tub in Ibiza. I wanted to sing along to “I’m Living My Best Life” by Chance the Rapper and Cardi B and really, really mean every word.
However, just as quickly as I set that goal I got an opportunity to intern at a company that I had been vying to work for throughout the entirety of my college career. I was left with a choice; stick with the current job I had, earn a somewhat sustainable salary, and continue dreading every single day OR I could take a risk. I could take a step down the mobility ladder, intern, and gain experience in the professional field that I actually wanted to dedicate my life to. Exit Rihanna and the billionaire boyfriend fantasy. Enter reality.
During this time, I questioned everything. I went back and forth as to whether the choice I made to take the internship, aka the choice I made that completely went against my New Year’s resolution, was the right one. While I knew these were extremely privileged options to even consider, I still felt the imminent weight of selecting the wrong one. In order to subdue many of the doubts and concerns racing around in my head, I turned to an old practice, self-affirmation.
Over the past few decades, there has been an increased explaining why self-affirming reminders, actions, phrases, and even quotes have positive effects on a person’s state of mind. According to an article published on The Cut, there are three primary explanations as to why self-affirmations work.
“First, it’s simply enjoyable to dwell on what we value; second, when we’re feeling threatened by a particular criticism or failure, the technique reminds us of those things we value about ourselves more broadly, that are separate from the threatened aspect; third, by broadening the basis of our self-worth, it can help us regulate our emotions.”
Makes sense, right?
That being said, there is still no definitive way to predict how different people will respond to self-affirmation. My only hope is that by sharing how I intend to use this practice in 2019, you will be inspired to embrace the ethos of New Year’s self-affirmations into your own life and apply it in a way to that works for you.
Since I knew I wanted to do things a little differently this year, I started by taking some time to reflect and hone in on exactly what I wanted to get out of 2019. Rather than writing out resolutions, I selected certain words and phrases. I will still stay anchored to my short- and long-term goals, but by broadening my immediate “new year new me” desires into New Year’s affirmations, I am giving myself more freedom. I am preparing myself for the inevitable spontaneity that 2019 will bring. I challenge you to do the same!
If a normal resolution for you is to become more religious, then try affirming yourself with the words “I am faith” as a consistent reminder of where to send all your worries. If a normal resolution for you is gain or lose weight, trying replacing this with the words “I am confident,” to motivate your health practices, but keep you feeling good about yourself in any state. If a normal resolution for you is to save more money, then try swapping in the words “I am financial longevity” to always keep the bigger picture on your radar. Any resolution, regardless of how big or small, taps into an overarching affirmation or turn of words that you can repeat to yourself every single day.
If you are still feeling lost and don’t know quite where to start when it comes to New Year’s affirmations, let us help! Check out our recently re-released daily affirmation cards, now available on Amazon. As you select a card, drown out the noise and negativity while leading yourself in a private session of self-love. I AM faith. I AM confidence. I AM financial longevity. I AM everything that I want to become and even a little bit more.
If you want to take matters into your own hands and make your daily affirmation practice a bit more personal, then it’s time to up the ante with a DIY (do-it-yourself version). On my bedside table right now sits a mason jar full of scraps. On each scrap, a handwritten affirmation, motto, or intention to carry me throughout the year. Regardless of what this year has in store, these scraps will help keep me, and all of my goals, on track. Every morning as I am getting ready for work, I pick one out, recite it in the mirror, and move throughout the day with it on my mind.
We are almost halfway through the month of January. This journey that is 2019 is only just beginning, but I am grateful to have my New Year’s affirmations to sustain me throughout the rest of the year. One of the reasons I believe this practice will work better than New Year’s resolutions have in the past is because, with affirmations, failure is not an option that exists.
Traditional resolutions are setups. They require you to act, engage, or behave differently right away. Unfortunately, this sort of change is always susceptible to roadblocks. Affirmations, on the other hand, require you only to think differently. They challenge your state of mind and encourage positive self-talk as a motivating factor. If life was like a car, resolutions would be the GPS and affirmations would be the gas. The former may get you to a specific destination, but the latter will get you there and beyond.