I’m sure you’ve already heard of New Year’s Resolutions – maybe you’ve even had one or a few yourself! If that’s the case, what went into deciding what your resolution would be? Was it based on guilt? Was it something you felt pressured to do by the people around you? How long were you able to act in line with your resolution? If you weren’t able to follow through, what do you think made it difficult?
Messaging in diet culture often gears people toward creating New Year’s resolutions based on weight and shape. Some of the most common ones include but are not limited to, exercising more, eating healthier, and losing weight (1). The problem with trying to attain these resolutions is that they are strictly goal-based – meaning that there is a goal in mind that one might attempt to reach by taking actionable steps. When having goal-based resolutions, we most often do not act in line with our values, which makes it difficult to stay on track.
At this time of the year, we thought it would be helpful to dive into New Year’s resolutions from a different perspective while comparing and contrasting values-based resolutions as opposed to goal-based resolutions.
Differentiating between a value and a goal
First off, let’s look at both goals and values and differentiate them:
A goal is a desired result that you would like to reach or achieve. You work towards it by basing all of your actions and efforts on this desired outcome. The attainment of this goal is often how you define success. For example, if someone’s goal is to lose weight, they will base all of their actions on this goal and determine whether they were successful if they achieved the desired result.
Values can be defined as what is most important and meaningful to you; they guide and motivate your attitudes, decisions, behaviors, and actions. Values are at the core of our being: they have an impact on the way we treat others and embody the person we want to become. Your values could change as you move forward in life, and not everyone’s values are the same. You could have values such as dependability, trust, connection, hard work, etc. They aren’t internal states, such as being happy, as we cannot control our emotions. They cannot be things that we cannot control either, like being respected by others.
You cannot check off your values as accomplished the same way you can with goals. Values provide a guiding light to help shape your behavior, helping you show up as a version of yourself that is as authentic as possible.
Importance of creating values-based resolutions
Why do we create resolutions to begin with? Presumably, there is some aspect of your life you would like to change, explore, or challenge. One way to make sure you create meaningful resolutions is to create them based on your values. They define who you are as a person, which makes them that much more purposeful, and the chances of you letting go of the resolutions aren’t as high. By doing so, your actions will align with your beliefs and with what is most important to you. This also helps you enjoy the journey towards value-based living, even if the values-based resolution itself is not achieved. Research shows that values-based resolutions have more success and are more advantageous in terms of health and well-being (4, 5). In fact, values-based living gives our lives a sense of purpose, which improves our well-being and lowers our stress levels.
You may ask, “How do we know if we’re on track with our values if there is no particular end result with values-based resolutions?” Values aren’t a destination, they’re part of who you are and of your everyday life. Values sculpt our behavior and help us stay on track with our beliefs. Acting in a way that is aligned with your values is an indicator that you are moving closer to your values-based resolution. If you notice that you are engaging in more behaviors outside your values, it might be time to unpack those behaviors and redirect them. This doesn’t mean you have failed. Changing a behavior can be very difficult and there are many lessons to learn along the way. These lessons provide us with valuable information to overcome barriers and roadblocks in the future so that we can move closer to our values.
Creating values-based resolutions
Here are some things you could do to put these resolutions in place:
Write down a list of your values
What is most important to you? Remember times in your life that made you feel fulfilled. Think about specific situations that felt meaningful to you. Think about what you cherish in life and think about things in life that make you feel like you have a purpose. Some examples of values are positivity, integrity, open-mindedness, respect, etc. For a guided version of this exercise, click here! Having these values written down can then help you create behaviors that are meaningful to you and that make you feel like you have a purpose in life.
Write down a list of behaviors you’d like to achieve based on your values
For example, if one of your values is health, think about what health means to you. Is it strictly physical? Or does your mental, emotional, and social well-being feel important as well? How can you fulfill this core value of health by committing to a specific behavior? i.e. Getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, spending time with family, etc. You need to feel like the journey toward the behavior has a positive effect on your well-being. If pursuing the behavior in question makes you feel drained and burned out, perhaps you should have another look at whether it’s truly aligned with your values.
If you choose to set New Year’s resolutions, creating values-based ones is really a game changer. They’re a great way to take care of your well-being and overall health. This new year, try to focus more on yourself and not on societal expectations. Know that you don’t need to set resolutions if this doesn’t speak to you and that you can set resolutions any time of the year, not just at the start. If you feel like diet culture has taken over your New Year’s resolutions or your behavior and you can’t seem to find a way out, contact our team at email@example.com or (514) 437-4260.
By: Mia El-Eid, Digital Marketing Coordinator, Jessica Francis, RD, and Vanessa Anoia, RD.
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Sööma is a bilingual company that operates in both English and in French. We will provide blog posts, recipes and articles from various sources that are sometimes written in English and sometimes in French. If you feel unable to access a specific article or topic due to a language barrier, please reach out to us at email@example.com and we will be happy to translate the content for you.
- The Big Book of ACT Metaphors
- The plasticity of well-being: A training-based framework for the cultivation of human flourishing Cortland J. Dahl, Christine D. Wilson-Mendenhall, Richard J. Davidson Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Dec 2020, 117 (51) 32197-32206; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2014859117