Nearly half of Americans start off the new year by making resolutions. And, depressingly, studies show that a whopping 92 percent of them never see them through.
It turns out that the act itself of setting New Year’s resolutions can set us up to fail. When you resolve to make changes that are too ambitious, not planned out well, or so full of potential roadblocks that they throw you off track, it’s easy to become discouraged and quit.
So here’s our suggestion: Forget resolutions, and decide to do the one thing that everyone from Oprah to Psychology Today says usually leads to personal success:
Put yourself first.
This is a concept that many people equate with “selfishness,” especially those who are forever taking care of everyone but themselves. Actually, this is the opposite of selfishness. Putting yourself first doesn’t have to be at the expense of others. In fact, it usually creates conditions in which people important to you get the best of you — not a stressed, burned-out version of you.
When all your time and energy goes to everything and everyone except you, burnout, stress, and fatigue are inevitable. So is a cascade of other potential problems that accompany them, including high blood pressure, depression or anxiety, and frequent illnesses. The airplane analogy fits so well: Put your own oxygen mask on before assisting others … because you’re of no use to anyone if your own well-being is compromised.
What does putting yourself first mean? Taking time every day to do something you enjoy (even if that means doing it alone). Making self-care a priority. Making investments to enhance your appearance, because there’s nothing more therapeutic than a boost of self-confidence. The joy you feel when you treat yourself like your own best friend radiates out of you and improves every important dynamic in your life. Fact. The best part of it is, putting yourself first is actually pretty easy to do, once you give yourself permission to do it.
So give yourself permission. Do something fabulous for yourself — today. We see it happen all the time. If you think something like hair extensions, a facial, highlights or a mani-pedi can’t change your life for the better, you’ve never seen anyone strut out of a salon with a thousand-watt smile because they feel better than they have in a long time. You’ve never seen anyone burst into tears when they look in the mirror because they can’t believe how good they look. Well, we have — and we can tell you firsthand that putting yourself first is a powerful thing.
Putting yourself first can even help you fulfill those New Year’s resolutions you would have made (if we hadn’t talked you out of it). A boost of self-confidence can go a long way in giving you the motivation or determination to tackle those larger goals, like quitting a bad habit or becoming more fit.
So go ahead. Make this the year you decided to go first. We promise you’ll be glad you did.