“New Year, New You!” I see this New Year’s resolution headline all the time and it makes my blood boil. Headlines trying to convince you that if you lose wrinkles and pant sizes you will be happier. We page through magazines and actually believe flawless skin and dimple-free legs is achievable. I hate to break it to you, but unless you have a Photoshop tool in your make-up brush those results are completely unrealistic. What isn’t unrealistic is being happy and healthy in your own skin — dimples, wrinkles, zits and all.
I will never forget the feeling I had when I opened the letter that would tell me what kind of premiums my insurance company would be throwing at me. Oh yes, the exciting health risk assessment scores. I was standing next to the mailbox and was too impatient to walk inside to open it. I don’t know why I was so anxious. It wasn’t like I was awaiting acceptance into an Ivy League school. I ripped open the letter and my jaw dropped. My score read a perfect “100.” “What?!” I looked at the envelope to make sure it was addressed to the correct person. “How can this be? “Is this an error?” I walked slowly up the driveway skimming over words like “congratulations” and “low risk.” I got to my front porch, sat down and looked at the score again. That “100” meant way more than the statistic the insurance company saw me as. It was a number on a piece of paper that signified I had found health and happiness. It was my measurement for a job well done.
The numbers I had the year prior looked a lot different. I had received a score of 80 points. Not only was it 20 points lower, I was 20 pounds heavier. I also took the load off work and my pocket book. My working hours went from 10-12 hours a day to six. My pharmacy bill went from $300 a month to $0. I was healthier, happier, and saving money. What I couldn’t measure numerically was how much joy I was filled with. As I write this, I think about how many people will be setting similar goals for the New Year. I had spent so many years doing the same…setting New Year’s resolutions yet never able to fully “resolve” any of them. How can I work less? How can I stress less? How can I find time to workout? How can I find time at all?
My journey from 80 to 100 had nothing to do with my health risk assessment scores or my resolutions. It had everything to do with my dying father. A year-long journey resulted in him taking his last breath in my arms but also with me finding health and happiness. I found those because I found myself. When you see the headlines saying “New Year, New You” try this instead: “New Year, Be You.” If you spend each year trying to be a “new” you, you will never be living life as “you.” You will always feel stuck, depressed, or disconnected. You will always be searching and feel like something is missing. Salads don’t bring you smiles and gyms don’t bring you joy — you do.
Reconnecting with my true self only happened because I was losing someone I loved. I wasn’t thinking about how many calories I ate or burned. I was thinking about how many more meals and walks I could share with my dad. When you live authentically, health and happiness comes easily. You don’t need to lose your loved one to find yourself. You can simply start right now by looking at the New Year as your Last Year. When you do this, your authentic self will quickly be revealed. When time isn’t on your side, you will quickly start doing the things your true self desires. When you honor your talents and passions, you won’t feel stuck and unfulfilled. You will move your body simply for the joy of being able to. You will do things because you want to, not because you “should.” Time, money, and fear will no longer be in your way. The only thing that will be in your way, is yourself.