Through Grok Nation, my YouTube channel and my social platforms, I get so many questions about a variety of topics: parenting, breastfeeding, veganism, Judaism, acting and more. That’s why I launched Ask Dr. Mayim, an advice column on Grok Nation where you can ask me questions about things going on in your life and I’ll give you my best, honest opinion.
In this week’s Ask Dr. Mayim, I try to help someone looking to embrace her family’s Christmas traditions, despite her not being Christian. Read the question and my advice below; at the end, you’ll also find out how you can submit your own questions for Dr. Mayim!
(You can read all the past columns here.)
Dear Dr. Mayim,
It’s that time of year again: New Year’s resolutions. I start each year with such great intentions. I want to read a book every month, eat copious fruits and vegetables, drink 8 glasses of water a day, volunteer in my community, walk more, go to bed on time. You know—the usual resolution players. I have great momentum the first week, and sometimes even the second, but then it always fizzles out. This year I want to really commit to lifelong (or at least yearlong) changes. Do you have any brain tips for making something a habit and sticking to it? My resolutions are always goals that will make me a healthier, more well-rounded person and yet I can’t convince myself to do it long-term.
Dear Can’t Commit,
I actually made a YouTube video about this very topic because I share your frustration! I think the expectations surrounding resolutions can be really anxiety-provoking. I know they are for me.
I think part of the thing to remember is to not make resolutions all or nothing. Remember that you are HUMAN and we all are as well. Think progress, not perfection. That helps me feel less hysterical if I slip—and invariably I do, because I, too, am HUMAN!
Another thing I try to keep in mind is that making small manageable shifts is often more lasting than making drastic changes. The hope is that when we make shifts, such as eating better, meditating daily, or working out more than once a month (ahem), we begin to see how much it makes us feel better and we will organically want to do it more. So the idea is not to make external changes to our internal state, but rather to make changes that shift us from the inside out. Then those changes can become more of a lasting commitment.
Also, I would prioritize your resolutions. For example, what is the one thing that will make the most change in your life that you seek? It might be smart to focus on that and that alone one day at a time.
If it’s eating better, think about what feels doable. Going vegetarian or vegan or sugar-free overnight is hard, but what’s easier is to commit to Meatless Mondays or cutting back on meat, for example. If your goal is to work out more, take it one day at a time. Each day, see where you can work in moving your body. I have found amazing free YouTube videos that let me work out for 20 minutes at a time in the safety and comfort of my living room. That’s added a lot to my life as someone trying to get into better shape.
Ultimately, January 1 is another day. And every day is an opportunity to be of service to others, to respect your body and this planet, and to practice random acts of kindness. I hope we can all commit to that January 1 and beyond.
Good luck and happy New Year!
Want to ask Dr. Mayim for advice? Email your question to firstname.lastname@example.org, and she may answer it an upcoming column.