I’ve been thinking about the “New Year, New You” idea that floats around this time every year.
Why does it have to be a New You?
What’s wrong with you as you are right now?
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t make changes. That we shouldn’t try to improve our health, finances, relationships, or any other aspects of our lives we feel would be better if they were somehow different.
But the habits you have right now? Good or bad, they are there for a reason.
Spend too much money on food outside the house? Maybe vowing to cook all your meals at home from this point forward isn’t the best solution.
Because chances are, there are valid reasons that you prefer going out.
- You don’t like to cook.
- You don’t know how to cook.
- Standing at the stove and cooking makes your pain worse.
- Cooking adds another stressful task to an already too long day. And then there’s the cleanup…
Because it’s never just about cooking, is it?
The idea is that you need to go from eating every meal in restaurants to cooking every meal at home. That’s a pretty tall order already.
But there’s also this built-in expectation that all these meals you’re going to start cooking absolutely must be:
- made from scratch
It’s too much.
Because we tend to think that if we are gonna bother doing something different, we need to do it perfectly.
There’s this belief that making a simple change isn’t enough. That your life needs a complete overhaul to be better.
But maybe you don’t need a new you, because you are pretty good exactly as you are now.
The question is, how can you go from pretty good to slightly better?
Let’s go back to the idea of cutting expenses by cooking at home.
Instead of trying to cook every single meal at home on day one, maybe commit to cooking dinner at home three nights a week.
Doesn’t that sound more doable?
If it does, cool. If not, scale it back.
Doesn’t seem like much, does it? But you know what? It’s better than nothing.
By only committing to cooking a few times a week, you minimize the stress of tackling a new habit.
You give yourself a chance to experiment with cooking while taking away some of the pressure involved in trying to make sweeping changes.
You give yourself the opportunity to realize that some of the food prep can be done sitting down. Or that putting a chair next to the stove turns what used to be an agonizing task into something bearable.
By making your goals easier to achieve, you discover the things that are really preventing you from making this cooking habit stick.
And you give yourself time to come up with workarounds.
Is grocery shopping the issue? Maybe it’s time to try grocery pickup or delivery.
Is the problem that you don’t really know how to cook? Maybe Blue Apron is your answer.
Is the problem that you expect yourself to cook perfectly healthy, budget-friendly, made-from-scratch, quick, tasty, all-organic meals? Maybe it is time to allow yourself (and your diet) to be imperfect.
The beauty is, once you find a way through whatever obstacles are preventing you from cooking at home more, you find yourself wanting to go out less.
You realize that you like knowing what is in the meals you eat. That home is the only place you can get decent vegetables. That there is no restaurant in town that makes meatloaf as good as yours.
But if you’d decided to go all in on day one you never would have made it this far.
There’s no need for a New You.
But maybe it is time to make a few minor tweaks. Gentle steps towards better while honoring the habits and coping mechanisms you’ve picked up along the way.
Because all your current habits have served you in some way over the years. Or they wouldn’t have become habits in the first place.