Resolutions get a bad rap, but I LOVE them. I even make New Month resolutions (sometimes). That level of intensity is not for everyone, you do you. But as a self-improvement junkie I have learned some helpful things over the years, whether you are a resolution nut like me or not.
1. Be realistic and honest
Know what you want, why you want it, and whether or not you are willing to make the necessary changes. Lose weight/get fit is a common resolution, but if my desire to eat what I want continues to outweigh (ha!) concern about my health or appearance, I will never actually make changes in that area.I am considering some form of “keep my house clean” as a resolution this year. It has been on my long list for years (I am seriously not great at housekeeping), but rarely makes the short list. Mostly because of this principle: when I am honest with myself I just don’t care enough about it. Especially not when I had little constant-mess-makers home with me all the time. And in the two years I have worked outside the home again, I have mostly cleaned the things other people see, just before they are going to see them. But as I work on my list of 18 things that will make me happier in 2018 (from Gretchen Rubin’s Happier podcast, more on this soon!), I know that having less clutter and dirt would make me happy. Especially the areas like my bathroom that only affect me, since those tend to be last on my list, always. I just need to figure out some manageable steps, and am trying to be realistic about my desire and commitment to change.
2. Keep your resolutions short and simple
Even into my 30s when I should have known better, I was making lists of 10+ (or 20!) things I wanted to change or improve. And I regularly didn’t make it a week with even one. First: My focus was spread too wide to actually accomplish any one thing. Second: If your list is long, you likely have things on there you’d like to improve, but don’t actually care about enough to make the necessary habit changes (see number one.)
I am making a list of 18 things that will make 2018 happier, but there are only a few traditional resolutions on there. The list is filled out with tasks (like “clean out my closet monthly”, “find a system for regularly getting the photos on my phone into some physically enjoyable form.”) or things I want more of (sleep) or less (wasting time on my phone.)
My actual resolutions are few, specific, and things I actually care enough about to change.
3. Schedule it
Whatever your resolution is, put it on the calendar. And honestly consider what you need to say NO to in order to say YES to your new habit (or vice verse, what positive thing you will do in order to say no to a bad habit.)
I have already failed at this. I intended to do daily yoga in January, but I didn’t plan a time in my day to do it. So I am already behind 2 days. I can’t think I will do daily yoga (or daily anything else) without planning a place and time in my schedule for that to happen.
I am going to follow my own advice (from the Advent Devotional) and jump in today rather than trying to catch up. And I am picking a realistic time to do it (mornings on weekends and holidays, just after my younger two go to bed on work days.) That should get me on track to keep that resolution (which I am REALLY excited about!)
4. Start where you are and embrace a GROWTH versus an ALL OR NOTHING mindset
Real growth happens when we make daily deposits, over time. Small, regular habits accumulate, and consistency trumps random. But our tendency is to jump in making sweeping changes without addressing smaller habits that make up that lifestyle. For example: If I rarely or never exercise, and my New Year’s Resolution is to work out for an hour daily, how likely am I to give up? Quite.
This one is really hard for me, because I am 100% all-or-nothing. Matt says I am a light switch, either all in or all out (he is a dimmer switch, slowly inching his way up. This is a very entertaining marriage dynamic.)
I have to try hard to remember that small changes add up, because making a resolution to do something small or incremental seems super lame to me. But when I make big goals and can’t keep up the pace, I give up completely, forgetting that anything I am doing counts toward growth and change, if I do it consistency.
The idea of habits has been really helpful for me. I try to remember that anything I do or don’t do regularly is a habit. Two years ago one of my resolutions was to floss daily. I occasionally skipped, but on the second day I would remind myself that I was in danger of sliding back into my habit of not flossing.
As I think about health and wellness goals this year, I want to keep a growth mindset: Any healthy choice is better than not caring at all, ignoring or shaming my body. I also need to keep this habit principle in mind, not bullying myself or depending on rules and schedules, but asking, “Am I making a habit of ignoring and mistreating my body? Or am I habitually nourishing and caring for myself?”
Happy New Year! And cheers to making resolutions we can KEEP!
Have you made resolutions this year? What helps you keep your new year’s resolutions?