One of the many activities that I do in a given week is to participate in global Twitter chats for those with PTSD who are on a journey towards mental wellbeing. The subject matter of one of these said chats was how resolutions may affect those under extreme stress. Many participants stated they do not make resolutions because of the obligation to see them through at the start of every new year, and that is too overwhelming for them.  One gentleman said the following: “I do not value resolutions as they can be very temporary.  I just try to do one thing better than the day before.”  I thought “Do one thing better” (how brilliant) -here’s why.

Wikipedia (2020) defines a New Year’s resolution as follows:

A New Year’s resolution is a tradition, most common in the Western Hemisphere but also found in the Eastern Hemisphere, in which a person resolves to continue good practices, change an undesired trait or behavior, to accomplish a personal goal, or otherwise improve their life.

Some of the more common resolutions include lose weight, eat better, spend less money, quit smoking and exercise more.  Resolutions are statements that offer the what, but rarely the why (importance) or the how (way) this promise to oneself will be carried out.  As a personal trainer, it is a common practice to ask clients to set goals they wish to achieve when working with me.  Too often I am given generalized statements (resolutions) such as “I want to lose 20 pounds.”  What are not found in this goal is the reason for weight loss, nor a period in which to work with (i.e. 2, 4, 6 months?).  Additionally, there is no strategy to address when life circumstances become a barrier to success (injury, illness, family matters).  Frustration ensues, and the resolution is cast aside for another year.  This is where doing one thing better can be a great remedy.

Remember that life is not perfect, neither are we and things will happen along the way that can or will stall the best laid plans. Do not beat yourself up about missing a workout or cheating on a meal plan – just do one thing better at the next opportunity.  Doing one thing better is about fierce self-determination in the face of adversity, being flexible, and staying the course for the long haul.  To do one thing better requires a strong “Why” and “How” attached to resolutions or goals which become the beacon of light you move towards.  The following is an example of a well-defined goal:

“I have arthritis in my knees which limits my mobility on a daily basis.  I am going to lose 20 pounds in the next 6 to 8 months to ease the burden on my joints, so I can participate in more activities with my grandchildren instead of sitting on the sidelines”.

Ultimately this client wishes to improve and enjoy his/her quality of life to the fullest extent possible.  Doing one thing better is about setting smaller goals to assist you in achieving the overall plan of action.  They are actionable steps you can manage when faced with obstacles.  When life invariably gets in the way (and it will), just know that you do not have to go it alone.  Peer support and mentoring are excellent tools you can use to transform your mind, body, and spirit. Never fear asking for guidance.  It is during my moments of self-doubt that I recall a Jimmy Buffett song that says it best (something he wrote in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina)  –

“Breathe in, breathe out, move on.”

Until next time –

Do the best you can with what you have in each moment to make your life, and this world a better place to live.