As December draws to an end and we look forward to a new year, many people see opportunities for change. A new year seems like a new slate, and we draft up our New Year’s Resolutions with the best intentions. Our resolutions are an evaluation of the previous year, what we wish had been different, what could have made things easier or more enjoyable. Unfortunately our resolutions are typically short lived. After years of getting my hopes up only to have them dashed at the first sign of backsliding, I have worked out a far more reasonable way to view New Years Resolutions, and a method to get things done.
It’s very easy to list off the parts of our lives that we wish to change. Many of us can envision ourselves more productive, skinnier, with lots of time for our kids and our hobbies, out of debt, etc… But, when you list off several things that you resolve to change all at the same time, “cold turkey” so to speak, you battle with your habits and typically lose. If changing our lives was easy, there would be no use for resolutions! For those who are serious about wanting to keep their resolutions, I offer this solution.
First, begin with your goals. This is the easy part, because it’s what we usually think of as the “New Year’s Resolution.” Write them down, and be serious with yourself. Remember to think of these resolutions as things you’ll want to continue to work on through the whole year to better yourself.
Once you have a practical list of things you would like to accomplish over the year, take each goal and think of how you could first approach it. It’s probably not practical for you to go from being a total couch potato to exercising two hours every day. That’s a resolution just asking to be dumped. Instead, if you have resolved to get into shape, think of a small thing that you’re more willing to do to start out, such as limiting your sugar intake and walking the dogs around the park every day.
Now that you’ve written down how you’d like to start out your venture for the New Year, keep your list some place where you can look at it often and evaluate it. I suggest keeping a yearly planner, and write your resolutions at the front. At the beginning of every month, take it out and see how you’ve progressed. If your resolution was to quit smoking, you may have spent the first two months cutting back by a few cigarettes every day. Once you’ve gotten used to that, you may be so excited by your progress that you choose to cut your intake in half.
Also, if you begin to backslide, remember that it’s not the end of the world and you can keep working to move forward from that point. It may mean that you’re moving too fast, and need to reevaluate your current step.
By taking your resolutions in steps, and evaluating along the way, you can make some real progress. Also, since you’re able to see the progress you’re making you can stay excited and don’t need to become discouraged.
Have a happy and prosperous New Year!