As we settle into a brand-new year and decade, with all the excitement that new beginnings bring, many of us are inspired to reach new heights. Do you feel alive and radiant at the idea? Can you sense the enormous potential for renewal and transformation?

A few years ago, I started using the term “New Year’s Revolutions” to express a deeper commitment to change compared to the typical New Year’s resolutions, and will explain the difference in this article.

Resolution versus Revolution

Have you ever wondered why most people’s New Year’s resolutions are a recurring pattern of only short-term change? This is because it’s common to start the New Year with strong feelings of guilt and inadequacy over the holiday season. So instead of inspiring lasting transformation, for a lot of people the New Year ignites short-term flagellation.

This may look like some or all of the following:

  • Deprivation diets, fasts, cleanses (a.k.a. starvation)
  • Excessive exercise (a.k.a. exhaustion)
  • Financial investments in a get skinny/get fit/be perfect program, product, etc.

This is the stuff that goes viral on social media. But does it make you feel worthy, authentic, and whole?

Why New Year’s resolutions are impressively ineffective

For most people, the start-of-the-year fervor dies away quickly, and the resolution is history. Why? Because the changes are not sustainable or practical. But most importantly, New Year’s resolutions fizzle out because they aren’t transformative.

Rather, they are part of a recurring short-term self-flagellation ritual in atonement of holiday-season transgressions. The punishment is usually in the form of a short “cleanse” where the person exercises vigorously and avoids the “bad” foods enjoyed during the holidays.

After this brief flirtation with unsustainable deprivation, most people return to their usual patterns, which involve a descent into “badness” again. In fact, the “cleansing” ends abruptly with Valentine’s Day, when love is expressed through commercial sugary treats.

A Different Perspective: New Year’s Revolutions

New Year’s revolutions are lasting, radical changes we make. They are points of no return, because they gratify and transform us instead of depriving us. Instead of resting on short-term judgments about good v. bad, the changes made on the basis of the revolutions model are based on answers to questions such as these:

  • What changes can I make to solve my health problems and prevent new ones?
  • What changes can we make as a family to prevent illness and grow strong children?
  • What changes can we make in our purchasing and eating patterns to be more in line with our ethical values?
  • What changes can we make to improve the health of the planet we live on?

How to get unstuck

  • A deep understanding of our own values is a guide that helps us focus and grow.
  • With a deep understanding of our own unique health journey, our strategy authentically aligns with our goals.
  • Our unique circumstances and goals require a personalized approach.
  • You must love and value yourself in order to maintain momentum.

When these basic ingredients are missing, we get sucked into the trap of miracle cures, one-size-fits-all-solutions and over-simplified ideas of how things work.

Putting it all together

The New Year’s resolutions model is deeply ingrained in a cultural perspective that judges behavior as good or bad, but which reinforces old patterns instead of breathing new potential into our lives.

By contrast, the New Year’s revolutions model is all about aligning with a deeper understanding of who you are, where you come from, and where you’d like to go next. The revolutions model allows you to transform deeply and lastingly because your behavior is aligned with your goals and values.