The New Years Brain Crave Conundrum

Here we are, two weeks into the new year with all our New Years resolutions. I’m not sure where the origin of the New Year resolution comes from, but I’ve always thought it was strange that January 1st is viewed as the “saving grace” for all the debauchery that takes place the year before or more specifically, the night before. The last few weeks of 2013 are typically spent over-indulging and under-performing because we know, come 2014, we will dedicate our time to cleanse our mind and bodies and fully commit to GSD’ing (get shit done…ing). But for most of us, our commitment to these resolutions die just as fast as they were made, and we are left right back where we were in 2013. In preparation for this year’s resolution mass abandonment, I decided to try something different. Instead of focusing on some of the “I wants”, which are typically shortsighted and short-lived, I decided to look for things my mind and body NEED. These are the things that it craves for long lasting, sustainable productivity.

Let me explain.

Before making any rash decisions, I did what any 20-something looking for answers to finding impactful personal growth in the new year would do, I Googled it. After bushwhacking my way through the onslaught of new years resolution blog posts, articles, self-help guides, and trivial social media blasts, I found one article that resonated really well with the kind of change I was willing to make. It has to do with the mind and body’s innate desire for change. Here is an excerpt from TechCrunch, “Why 2014 is the Year You Change”:

“Evolution. For 400,000 years, humans were good at hunter-gathering. Which meant we had to know all of the terrain around us. We had to know all the foods, poisons, animals, and enemies. And then we would move to a new terrain. Change was part of our DNA.

But for the past 10,000 years (a blip in evolutionary time), we had to specialize and be good at one thing and in one place.

Nobody told evolution this.

So our bodies break down, our minds get sick, we need all sorts of medications, we die. Evolution wants us to constantly change.”

Bottom line, this makes sense. I’ve always felt society’s push to conform to just one type of job or skill, the “what do you want to be when you grow up” scenario. For years, without realizing it, I’ve been pushing right back. Why do I, or you, have to choose any one thing? Our mind and bodies crave diversity. Physical trainers have known this for decades, maybe even centuries. They know that to build consistent muscle strength and endurance it’s necessary to adopt a workout regiment that is chock full of variation; repetitive bicep curls will only get your arms so far. Well, this also applies to the mind. Consistent adoption of new skills and the honing and repurposing of the old will strengthen mental flexibility and our ability to solve everyday problems; whether it’s “where the frack are my keys” or “the client needs whattt by tomorrow?!”. Realizing and remedying the roots of our inner needs rather than setting resolutions to simply pacify our external wants will set us up for long lasting change.

SO, this year I’m embracing the jack-of-all-trades lifestyle and I encourage you to do the same. I’m diversifying and doing so with reality intact. Instead of making unobtainable weight resolutions I’m committing to small goals like knowing more about where my food comes from and mixing up boring gym workouts with hikes or walks through neighborhoods I’ve never been to. Yay for local adventure! I’ve also already signed up for and have been religiously using the brain-training app provided by Luminosity. A few family members laughed when they heard I spent money on a service like this acknowledging the fact that I must be so ‘smart’ for spending my hard earned money on a game. But within the few weeks I’ve used it I’ve been happily surprised with the results and I’m hoping this upward trend continues. I’ve also enrolled in year long massive open online course for computer science; it’s something I’ve been wanting to learn for quite sometime now and although I don’t ever see myself becoming a programmer, the skills I’ll learn will surely spill over into other areas.

So for those of you that have already made resolutions this year, whether you’ve already broken them or not, rethink them to be more realistic in the short-term and more aligned with your mind and body’s long-term needs. Real changes, the kinds of changes many of us are looking for, don’t have an annual cycle and therefore should be looked at more holistically. Look deep within and think, “What have I been craving?” And no, I don’t mean another piece of mom’s holiday ham. Creating real positive change takes time but the key is knowing the difference between what changes you NEED as opposed to what you just might want.