Happy New Year! What do you have on your horizons for 2016? Admittedly, I love to contemplate, think, process and analyze. What better holiday for me than New Years? It is a perfect time to clear the slate and start fresh. (Although, I do believe in the idea that any day can be a new beginning as I wrote about here.) Still, I have noticed over the years that New Year’s resolutions are getting a bad rap. They do not seem to be what the “cool kids” are doing. Many times, I hear resolutions spoken of in a rather condescending manner that denounce them as juvenile, question their relevance and claim them to be defunct (like it is the resolutions fault!). The main message….why bother with resolutions? I am here to say – not so! Having a time in my life, whether that is New Years, my birthday, the start of a school year or some random Tuesday, to reflect on my life and make purposeful decisions about the way I am living is a gift. For any of us, if we are at a place to even contemplate resolutions it means that all our basic needs are being met. If we were worried about putting food on the table for our family or having shelter from the cold, we would be in pure survival mode. The last thing on our mind would be resolutions about weight or happiness. If we are at a place where our basic needs are being met, we are blessed. We have been given a gift. Whether we realize it or not, we decide on a daily basis how we use this gift. Being purposeful and actually thinking about a direction for living out our days…this is a good thing. If you are wondering how to make resolutions have a little more staying power in your life, below are some things you should consider:
- Start reflecting on your life and how you live it now. What is already good? What are some of the areas you want to change? In 5 years, 10 years, when you are a certain age or when your kids are at a certain age, what do you hope your life will be like then? What do you hope you have accomplished individually? as a family? What is important to you now and what do you project will be important to you in the future? All of these are great things to think about before even contemplating a resolution.
- Take the vision you came up with and decide on a few goals that will get you closer to this vision. Keep in mind, the objective is to tweak what we are already doing, not reinvent the wheel. And perfectionism has no place here. If you have quite a few items on your list, maybe try to focus on one area per month to make changes. If the list is too overwhelming, you will quickly abandon it for what you already know and what is comfortable.
- Break down each goal into measurable acts. For example, if I decide I want to be happier in 2016, I should think about specific actions I could undertake which lead to more happiness (it must be based on my actions, not others’). I then commit to doing those on a more regular basis.
- Track your progress. This holds you accountable. Maybe make a spreadsheet or record your progress in a journal. In doing so, you are able to look at your days/weeks and analyze how you are doing on your measurable goals.
- Ask yourself what you can do better to meet the measurable goals. Reflect on a regular basis and brainstorm. Maybe ask other people. Sometimes, we get stuck in thinking about a particular situation or problem from one direction. Getting input from others can give us a whole new perspective.
- Don’t let shame enter the picture. If you struggle to meet a goal, this is not a reflection of your character. Believe the best about yourself and resolve to find creative ways to meet your goals. Maybe different types of motivation, inspiration or thought patterns could provide a different perspective to reach your goals. Instead of shaming, be your own best cheerleader and encourager.