How many patronising “New year, new you!” posts have you read so far this week? And how many have you read where the author HASN’T been trying to sell you something?
It’s nice in principle to have a dedicated a time of year for reflection and change – but generally speaking, how many of us save up all our important decisions for January 1st? We don’t. It would be ridiculously inconvenient. But for some reason, when it comes to health and wellbeing, so many of us are happy to push it aside until the marketing calendar says we need to prioritise it.
I’m aware, as the founder of a brand that primarily sells activewear, I’m supposed to be pressuring you to SPEND SPEND SPEND. January is when you need to hate yourself more than any other time of the year – to be extra proactive about fixing everything that’s wrong with you. And the easiest way to make yourself feel proactive is to start throwing some cash at the perceived problem.
Take a step back and analyse what you’re doing – and why you’re doing it. Did you resolve to make this same change last January? If so, why are you now having to make it again? What went wrong and how can you address that? Why didn’t you make the decision you’re making now in April or June or November last year, if it’s that important? And if it’s to do with your health – physical or mental – it IS that important.
We tend to prioritise our own wellbeing last, until something actually happens that forces us to react. That’s why weight loss is the most common New Year’s resolution. Health goes to the back of the queue for the other 11 months of the year – you don’t have time, you’re not motivated, work, money, family all comes first. Then January rolls around, every media outlet is churning out 30 day plans to punish your ‘festive indulgence’ and you’re suddenly reminded. You’re reminded in the worst possible way – because the focus isn’t sustainable change and appreciation for wellbeing as the most fundamental corner-stone of your life; it’s quick-fix penance that plays on guilt and insecurity.
At a time of year when businesses want you to be impulsive and irrational, be introspective and logical. Your issue is not “I need to lose a few pounds.” It’s “I’m not happy with myself and I haven’t been able to address it.” So the follow up question isn’t “Which juice cleanse should I waste my money on this January?” It’s “What’s been stopping me from looking after myself?”. If you’re asking the right question, you can make a logical decision and plan a sustainable change.
When you ask the right question, it becomes abundantly clear that you didn’t need to wait until January – and that if you start to fall back into old habits later in the year, you certainly shouldn’t wait until next January to address it. It also becomes clear you can’t simply stick a band aid over your problem, in the form of an expensive gym membership or a new pair of trainers. That’s just what they want you to think.
Motivation is extremely important – but make sure you take the time to identify exactly what WILL motivate you. And heads up – it’s going to be something that makes you feel empowered rather than enslaved. If you let an opportunistic marketing campaign make that decision for you, it’s the latter before you’ve even started.
I wish you a successful 2017, doing what makes you happy and healthy!