These days New Years Resolutions get a bad wrap. Sure, they’ve been co-opted by fitness and weight-loss companies to line their pockets, but fundamentally they [resolutions] are an opportunity to re-evaluate our lives, and make some needed positive changes. Many of us are encouraged by the hope and hype of a new beginning on January 1st, and we take actions to fulfill them. For others of us, we start the new year with enthusiasm, but failure after failure fills our reservoirs of cynicism, and we decide that our New Year’s Resolutions are a waste of time. I’ve been on both sides, and I have certainly had my fair share of disenchantment with the tradition. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve resolved to lose 10 pounds, become a morning person, journal every day, or write my first musical, I’d have about $6. Yet despite all of this so called “resolve,” I still can’t fit in my skinny jeans, the snooze button still gets pressed at least 3-5 times, I journal maybe twice a month, and my musical is nowhere near finished.
So, you may be wondering why would I love New Year’s Resolutions if I haven’t always kept my own?
For starters, most of my life, I was doing it wrong. First of all, my resolutions weren’t based on what I really wanted for my life, I was creating them based on what I thought I should want for my life, based on seeing a weight-loss commercial after a fatefully timed perusal through a Victoria’s Secret catalog. Secondly, I wasn’t holding myself accountable. I wrote them down on December 31st, and then stowed them away tucked inside a journal on a shelf, not to be seen again until I picked it up weeks later, to do some of that journaling I was so resolved to do. It’s no surprise that I wasn’t successful given those conditions. If we genuinely want to better ourselves and our lives at the fresh start of a new year, then how are we to proceed?
New Year’s Resolutions, like so many goals, are challenging to see through, but here are 5 tips that will give us a fighting chance of turning a resolution into reality.
1. Don’t Make Bullsh*t Resolutions – Losing 10 pounds is a bullsh*t resolution. Sorry, it just is. I’ve been as guilty of putting that on my list as anyone, but part of what makes resolutions difficult to keep is that they’re not inspiring. Fitting into my skinny jeans isn’t inspiring, and it’s certainly not worth dedicating a whole year to. We need to look for bigger goals. What is something worthy of focusing on for an entire year? What is going to make a real and lasting difference in the quality of our lives? What are we truly passionate about? What do we want to see shift in the world around us? These are just places to start looking for ourselves, but I can tell you, if we’re not lit up by something we’ve written down on our list, it’s a bullsh*t resolution, and it doesn’t belong there.
2. Share Your Resolutions With as Many People as Possible– Social accountability is a huge motivating force, and we would be silly not to use it to our advantage here. When we share with the people closest to us what we want to accomplish, it makes it more real. The more people we share it with, the more real it becomes. If your resolutions are more personal, and you don’t feel comfortable shouting them from the rooftops, share with a few trusted friends or family members. Regardless, if we keep them to ourselves, we’re not likely to make them a reality.
3. Keep Your Resolutions Visible– A key reason that resolutions don’t get fulfilled is that we forget about them. Place your list on a post-it note someplace where you’ll see it every day. Create a vision board that you’ll see first thing when you wake up in the morning. Take a screenshot of your list, and make it the wallpaper on your phone. Keeping those resolutions fresh on our minds will help us stay focused. Also, bear in mind that human beings are really great at ignoring things that we see all the time, so move around those post-its, move the list from your phone wallpaper to your computer screensaver. The more we change things up, the most difficult they are to overlook.
4. Schedule Time to Work on Your Resolutions– Just like everything else, fulfilling our New Year’s Resolutions has to take place at some point in time. They won’t just magically get done. Take out your calendar, and start writing down milestones. Carve out blocks of time to work on your projects. This brings those goals to life, and makes them tangible. This is a great time to use social accountability as well. Tell your spouse, family, co-workers, etc. that you’ll be busy or unavailable during those times, so that they know what you’re up to. You may even find that by being organized, and following through on your goals, you inspire them to do the same.
5. Don’t Give up Just Because You Break a Resolution– There’s a decent chance we’ll slip up a time or two. And many of us quit after one or two slips. That would be like giving up on quitting smoking just because you had a cigarette. Keep trying. Keep falling down. Just don’t give up.
These tips are useful for creating and meeting goals at any time of year, but if you’re like me, and you love the energy and optimism that comes with January 1st, then these will help us usher in a more inspiring, and fulfilled 2016. Now get to it. Happy new year!
Images from http://bluebirdrobin.blogspot.com/2013/08/life-no-more-bullshit.html and https://colewardell.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/busy-planner.jpg