Written by Emilie Brunet
Before working in this industry, I spent 10 years working in the fitness and wellness industry in various gyms and yoga studios. And let me tell you, the number of memberships and classes we sold in January to then be left behind in February could fill a football stadium.
This isn’t to say that people aren’t dedicated or goal-oriented, it’s to say that the fitness and wellness industry along with the self-help industry is a multi-trillion dollar industry that thrives off of people believing that they are so inadequate that the only way they can find joy is by changing themselves completely (Oops, I said it).
“New Year, New You” the classic slogan that reaffirms that the way that someone is right now is not enough; so people buy gym memberships and self-help books and say “this is the year that I will be better.”
But what if our approach to New Year’s Resolutions weren’t rooted in absolutely changing ourselves, but rather rooted in leaning into who we already are, what habits we already have, what we like about ourselves.
As a People and Culture Manager, I’ve helped our business establish our company values, create a vision, a culture and then from there set goals.
But what if we could take those principles and use them on ourselves?
Rather than throwing an arbitrary goal onto a piece of paper because you think that it will make your life better or make you more successful, can you instead take a different approach that taps into your authentic self and the innate truth that you are valuable just as you are? (Yes, we’re getting cheesy here but stay with me).
Here are 4 steps you can take this year to make realistic, value-aligned resolutions.
What are your actual values? (And not just what you wish your values were.)
When I was doing research in setting our company values, I watched a great speech by Jeff Lawson who said that “you cannot create your values […] you are articulating something that’s already there.”
Your values are not goals. They are a part of who you already are.
But while that’s true, sometimes we get out of alignment with our values. Things come up that prevent us from existing in our values.
So while you may think of yourself as someone who values trust, but you always lie to your friends and family, then maybe you aren’t currently in alignment with that value.
If you value kindness, but regularly yell at the local barista for getting your order wrong, then you aren’t currently living that value.
Our values are not ethereal. They rule our thought processes, our decision-making and our behaviours.
If we don’t take the time to deeply understand what it is that we value, it can be harder to determine what success (or what I like to think of as living our values) actually means to us, as opposed to success as it’s perceived from the outside world.
Determining our values comes not from writing a bunch of words down on a page, but from reflecting on and analyzing key moments in our lives in which we made particular choices or behaved in certain ways.
Sometimes we make decisions based on what other people expect of us, but when we make decisions based on our values, it feels different.
It feels right.
Think of times in your life when you had to make key decisions:
Finding your values isn’t something that happens overnight, and it also changes and evolves over time. But taking the time to reflect can be helpful in determining what it is that is important to you.
This might sound weird. But sometimes we have to make a decision that requires our values to contradict each other.
We value spending time with our family, but we also value our physical health. So we decide to forgo going on a run, to spend more time with our family. Or we forgo spending time with our family to go on a run.
We are constantly prioritizing our values in our decision-making. While our values may evolve, usually they do so at a slower pace, our priorities, on the other hand, change day-by-day.
On a regular basis, I try to take the time to understand what my current priorities are. I will literally rank them from most important to least important.
What this means is that on the month’s that I’m valuing my physical health more than my community, I might choose to go to the gym instead of to a community potluck.
Understanding the order of our values can helps us make difficult decisions.
It’s important to recognize that while our individual values are important, we also have collective responsibilities and we also have to deal with the realities of life.
We don’t exist in this world alone (in fact, we would die if we did) and we also live under this system called capitalism in which we need to work to make money to provide for ourselves.
When determining the prioritization order of your values, also take the time to determine what else is on the table. What are your families shared values? What are your communities shared values? What currently takes up your time? How do you have to make ends meet and how does that need to take priority over certain values you might have?
Now that you’re armed with your values and how you’d like to prioritize them in your life, you can begin to set resolutions from those values.
In the past, maybe you set arbitrary resolutions based on what the world told you you should do. Now you can set resolutions rooted in your fundamental values.
You are way more likely to follow through on resolutions that are intrinsically linked to your already existing values.
If you value connecting with your community, maybe your resolve to deepen your relationship with your neighbours.
If you value kindness, maybe you resolve to be practice more patience and understanding when encountering conflict in your life.
If you value knowledge, maybe you resolve to read more books that contain perspectives different from those you already know.
While some resolutions are about actual tangible results, others are more about a feeling, an intention or a lifestyle change.
If you like to make resolutions that are more about intentions, as opposed to actual tangible goals then you can stop there.
However, if you are someone who likes to track and see your successes then make sure you take the time to change your resolutions into SMART goals or at least a variation of that.
It can be tempting once you know your values, to then make 10-20 resolutions for the year. And while that’s great, let’s not try to implement everything all at once.
Successful goals are more often than not simply the embodiment of our values carried out in a carefully implemented habit-based plan.
A goal without a plan is doomed to fail. You need to decide when you’ll be working towards your goal, how much time it’ll take up in the week, what resources you’ll need to accomplish it, etc.
Maybe you value your physical health, or more specifically your physical strength.
This value might result in you having the goal to Deadlift 300 lbs by the end of 2024. In order to make this goal a reality you have to think:
Once that plan is made, it’ll be really easy to see how suddenly implementing 10 resolutions all at once are more likely to lead to failure. Because we simply can’t completely restructure our life to accommodate 10 new things that we didn’t previously shape our lives around.
What’s less important than the resolution itself is the plan around it.
Happiest of New Years to everyone out there and wishing you all the best as you sit down to write out your 2024 resolutions!
I'm the Business Support Manager at Journey Education. I have always had a passion for writing, organization and finding creative solutions. I aim to be personable, empathetic and compassionate and believe that kindness can go along way in both business and life.
Having worked and organized with anti-capitalist, feminist and queer organizations, I strongly believe that EVERYONE deserves, not just a living wage, but a thriving wage and that it should be the priority of every business to create an inclusive, caring and diverse work environment that doesn't just ensures the work happens, but allows people to be people while the work is happening!
My approach to everything I do reflects my training in trauma-informed practices, active listening and harm reduction as well as my interest in understand the way people work, behave and exist as their full human self. I want to create safer spaces for people to explore, create and excel in a supportive environment - whether that's in life or at work.