Nourish Your Body. Feed Your Soul. Shine Your Light.

Why I Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions {And What I Do Instead}

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions.

For someone whose job is centered around inspiring and guiding other people to be well and improve or change their lives and health, that might seem odd.

After reading this, I guarantee you’ll think about New Year’s Resolutions differently than you ever have before.

Two years ago, my husband and I were walking around Hamden, an eclectic neighborhood in the heart of Baltimore, on New Year’s Eve. We ventured into a bookstore/café, and I stumbled upon a book that would forever change the way I thought about the concept of resolutions.

It was called The Desire Map.

As I flipped through the first few pages, I came upon the author Danielle’s story of turning away from the checklist style many of our New Year’s Resolutions tend to take.

Instead of focusing on what she wanted to DO that year, she asked herself a different question.

How do I want to feel?

Inspired by that question, my husband Bill and I reflected on our own responses at our annual New Year’s brunch after first recapping all of the fun memories and moments from 2014 in our gratitude jar, a tradition we started two years ago.

Our gratitude jar. We collect memories in it throughout the year and write them out in a journal at the end of the year.

Our gratitude jar. We collect memories in it throughout the year and write them out in a journal at the end of the year.

After brainstorming words that capture how I want to feel, I narrowed them down to the top five words that energize me the most and came up with my “core desired feelings.”

It’s different than making a fleeting resolution because it gets at “WHY,” what’s really driving my desire to make changes in my life.

Here are my 5 core desired feelings:

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When we get clear on how we want to feel and why, we can be more intentional about deciding what we can do to generate those feelings.

So, that’s what I did.

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“Sending out light; shining or glowing brightly”

Luster, light, brightness, brilliance, flow, joy, elation, delight

I did a visualization exercise a month or so ago and imagined my “ideal day” – what it felt like, what it looked like, how I would spend it. In that exercise, I pictured lots of physical openness and light in the spaces around me.

Not only do I want to bring light into my physical space (by expanding and opening up our kitchen – I can’t wait!), but I also want to be someone who has a glow and sense of joy about me.

We all know people like that. They literally light up a room, have a physical glow about them, and just seem to bring light and life wherever they go. I want to be that kind of person. I want to radiate in that way.

To be radiant is to be unapologetically bright, bold, and intentional. When something is radiant, it overflows with light that can’t help but spread. This year, I’m going to “go for it,” put myself out there, and be me. 

How do I generate feelings of radiance?

By spending time with other people who are on fire about what they do and are passionate about making the world a better place. Continuing to take a positive, building approach to health vs. instilling fear in people about their health choices. Sharing my story and health journey and how I’ve overcome and learned from my challenges. Regularly expressing gratitude and appreciation for the people and things in my life. Nourishing my body with foods that heal me and help my skin glow.

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“The quality of being certain or definite”

Clearness, lucidity, sharpness, crispness, definition, precision, purity

I’ve taken on a lot over the past year. In addition to having a full-time job, I started a health coaching and consulting business on the side, began writing this blog, regularly blogged for two other companies, and completed two certification programs, one of which lasted almost four months.

I’ve learned a lot this year, but at times, I’ve felt distracted, unfocused, and frenzied.

I’ve fallen into the comparison trap of paying more attention to what other people are doing to find success rather than laser focusing on my unique gifts and skills and on what I can offer. Someone else is farther along than me or has more clients or has created some super cool product or program I “should have” created.

Comparing ourselves is incredibly draining.

For the first time in almost six years, I’m taking a break from certifications and school. I’m going to look back on ALL the incredible things I’ve learned.

Instead of trying to be all things to all people, I’m going to get clear on what makes me come alive, what intensely interests me, what best uses my gifts, skills and knowledge.

How do I generate feelings of clarity?

Spending time with mentors who know me, believe in me and respect me and who will ask me tough questions about how I can best put my passion, skills, and knowledge to use. “Unplugging” and stepping away (sometimes physically getting away) to refocus and give my mind a break. Taking stock of my strengths and focusing my time and attention on improving those rather than comparing myself to other people. Getting better at what I’m best at. Because my faith is important to me, praying and asking for direction and discernment and then being still enough to hear the response. Doing less of the things that drain me, rob me of my energy, and aren’t the best uses of my time or skills.

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“Proceeding smoothly, continuously, effortlessly”

Free-flowing, effortless, easy, natural, smooth, free, unconfined

As I’ve struggled to arrive at a sense of clarity, I’ve felt the opposite of “flowing.” I’ve felt confined, stuck, pushing through just to get through.

It hasn’t felt smooth. It hasn’t seemed effortless. It hasn’t been easy.

“Flow” is also a concept in positive psychology. We might better know it as “being in the zone.”

When we’re “in the zone,” we’re fully immersed in what we’re doing. We feel and perform our best. We’re laser-focused, fully present, aware and involved, oblivious to time, creative and confident.

Flow feels effortless.

How can I generate feelings of flowing?

I experience “flow” when I’m giving a nutrition presentation to a group, teaching a cooking class, talking and teaching about food and health, cooking, spending time with others who are passionate about their work and purpose and whose missions align with mine, writing, singing, taking morning walks and doing yoga.

Instead of feeling stuck or clogged – physically, emotionally, and mentally – I want to feel like what I’m doing is effortless, free-flowing, and unconfined.

(Want to learn more about flow? Check out this TED Talk from the man who came up with the concept).

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“Forming a relationship or feeling an affinity”

Linked, banded together, coupled, joined, united, related

As someone who has historically been content doing things on my own and being independent, I’ve learned that seeking connection with others is one of the ways I can be my best self.

When I feel connected, I feel close, safe, wanted, supported, understood. We were meant to be connected, to be in community with others.

How do I generate feelings of connection?

Really listening to Bill and giving him my undivided attention when we’re talking. Being fully present when we’re together. Going on trips together to new places. Checking out new restaurants or trying new recipes at home. Making alone time and date nights a priority. Taking Sunday evening walks and catching up about the week. Making our weekly small group a priority, as we “do life together” with our friends from church, opening up about our vulnerabilities and sharing our joys. Surrounding ourselves with other couples who love each other well and build each other and us up.

Spending time with people who “get me” and know me – people who don’t judge me but who see all of the light and potential in me and do what they can to support it and help it grow. Serving others by volunteering in the community. Networking with people who are passionate, supportive, and encouraging. Being open to learning something from everyone I meet. My final core feeling triggered an emotional response in me that I wasn’t expecting.

When I arrived at my final feeling – WORTHY – I stumbled across this definition:

“Good enough”

And that’s where I stopped, and the tears started welling up.

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THIS has been my wound and my struggle throughout my life, since I was a kid.

Feeling worth it. Feeling good enough.

I have an insatiable thirst for knowledge and information and would be a perpetual student if I could. But it goes deeper than that. The drive to consume more knowledge is fueled in part by my feeling of inadequacy and the sense that I’m not enough – that I don’t know enough, am not capable enough, am not skilled enough, am not good enough.

“If only I learned this thing, THEN I’d be ready. Then, people would respect me. Then people would take me seriously. Then people would want to work with me and pay me what I believe my time and effort is worth.”

It’s exhausting to feel like I’m constantly trying to prove myself.

How do I generate feelings of worthiness?

Talking to people who believe in me, respect me, know me and my heart, and want the best for me…and then embracing what they tell me. My friend Erin is particularly amazing at doing this for me. We all need a friend like that.

Writing it down or literally speaking it out loud to myself – YOU ARE ENOUGH. YOU ARE WORTHY of fill in the blank (love, sacrifice, success, forgiveness, praise, money, your deepest desires).

But most importantly, by reminding myself of the TRUTH – even if I never “accomplish” anything else in my life, I have value and worth because I am. 

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If I want to have a sense of clarity, be radiant, experience flow, and feel connected, I have to first believe that I’m worthy, that I’m good enough. 

So there you have it. Those are my core desired feelings, my intentions for the new year.

How about you? Are you done with New Year’s Resolutions? Tired of feeling discouraged by February about all the things you didn’t quite accomplish despite the best of plans?

Check out this guide to walk you through the process of mapping out YOUR core desired feelings. You might be surprised by what comes up for you!

What are three to five words that capture how YOU want to feel in the coming year? Feel free to share your words in the comment section below!

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8 Comments

  1. I could not agree more Rachel!!! Connection, Love, Freedom, Peace – those are my words!! Happy 2015!!! xox

    • I love your words! So wonderful. Freedom and Peace really strike a chord with me, too. Thanks for taking the time to share!! Here’s to a wonderful year for you full of connection, love, freedom and peace! 🙂

  2. Wow! Sharing so vulnerably, honey, I just admire you. I’m sure this will inspire others. It inspired your Mother!

  3. Love this! You comments about “worthy” struck a particular cord with me. That is a racket that I consistently creeps up for me. Thanks for your insight. Sounds like a great exercise for me to do.

    • So glad it resonated with you, Tara! I think a lot of us feel that fear of “worthiness” or question, “what if I’m not enough??” Sometimes it can be encouraging to know other people feel that way! Thanks for taking the time to comment – Happy New Year to you and your family!

  4. Wow Rachel, I love this! 🙂 Thank you so much for taking the time and thought to share this!! What a wonderful perspective! I can relate to all your words! I’ve had struggles with living with an offended heart because of allowing what people do, don’t do, or what they say or don’t say, affect me deeply. I’ve learned that this is because I don’t value myself as I should (Worthy). I try to look in the mirror and say “I am a redeemed daughter of the Almighty God, the Creator of all things. I accept myself unconditionally. I am calm, organized, smart, loving, kind, productive, healthy and honoring to my Father God.” I think I need to add a few more words now, like radiant, flowing, worthy, connected, have clarity!! Wonderful inspiration!! Can’t wait to meet you on Saturday!!!!! <3

    • Sonya, I’m so glad! I TOTALLY get you on living with an offended heart. I’m super sensitive to that as well. I’m going to write down your affirmation and use it as a reminder to myself when I struggle with those moments of not feeling good enough or worthy. Something happened today that made me feel that way and I let it get to me more than I should have. But thanks to your comment, I’m going to shift my thinking and remind myself that I AM worthy and that I can CHOOSE to feel that way, no matter what the situation! So looking forward to meeting you as well <3

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