Have you already broken your New Year’s resolutions for 2017? After the holiday goodies, did your resolution to lose weight find you standing at the refrigerator door, tired, hungry and ready to graze, by early afternoon on New Year’s Day? Did you decide to solve everything in your resolutions this year? Did you make a pile of resolutions in your head designed to make your life better, faster, and stronger? Have you already dropped or forgotten so many of these great resolutions that you wonder why you even bothered to make them?
There is a better way to make those New Year’s resolutions work. Maybe “better” isn’t quite the right word. There is a simpler and more effective way. Try KISS—“keep it simple, silly.” Use these next three thoughts to help make your resolutions happen.
First, don’t try to fix your whole life all at once. Instead, stare the American Dream to “have it all” in the face and say “not so fast.” It isn’t helpful to shoot for working on everything and then wind up accomplishing nothing. Another year goes by and you could find yourself in the same place you were a year ago. Instead of a dozen good intentions, focus on one or two resolutions that are really important to you.
Consider broad life goal areas (spiritual, relationship, career, community service, financial, social, personal, and health). What life or goal areas bug you the most or are your highest priority? Create one or two resolutions based on these.
Stop at only one or two resolutions so you can remember them, focus on them, and actually get them accomplished. Doing this will help you to stop repeating the same well-intentioned resolutions year after year. Wouldn’t it be nice to get them done and get on with the rest of your life?
Let’s say that I would like to address my health, and my personal development goal areas. I am seriously unhappy with my weight right now. In a different goal area, it sometimes frustrates me that I claim to value personal development but rarely make the time to do it.
Next, carefully design your resolutions into goals. Make them specific, measurable, and achievable. If I resolve to lose weight or to spend more time on personal development, I will only get there by being very clear about how it will happen. Better resolutions for me might be: I will lose fifteen pounds by June 1st, and I will take a personal retreat this year. It will be easier to track and achieve success if I am specific about what I have to do to accomplish my resolutions.
When a goal is very specific, it is very measurable. For my goals, I can stand on a scale and I can look in my calendar to see what, if any, personal development activities are scheduled. Create goals that can be measured as you make progress.
Achievable is important too. I don’t want to discourage myself by setting any unrealistic goals. For me, that would be losing fifty pounds in 3 weeks, for example, or being unrealistic about my other time obligations and trying to put too many personal development activities all at once on an already busy calendar.
Finally, make resolutions that excite you! If you aren’t thrilled or motivated to accomplish these resolutions, why bother? Pick resolutions that you feel enthusiastic about. For example, I would love to take a break from my regular routine and take a weekend retreat.
If you just pick resolutions from your “should do” list or use stuff that you think society expects you to accomplish, how far will you really try to go? Where is your passion? What do you have strong feelings about doing?
Work on resolutions that are your passion. Many people find that following their passion is part of a joyful and more peaceful life. Don’t you feel more fulfilled when you spend time working on what you truly love? Time really does fly when you are engrossed in your passion, whatever it is.
If a resolution isn’t intrinsically motivating, create an exciting reward for yourself for achieving it. Make the reward something that is a real treat for you. Withhold the treat until you achieve your resolution. If I achieve my weight goal, I could promise myself a new outfit or a weekend trip. Make sure to follow through and give yourself the reward—don’t be dishonest with yourself. Make sure that the resolution or the reward or both are a passion for you.
If your New Year’s resolutions are simple—limited to one or two, clearly defined, and personally exciting, you have a great shot at making them happen. After you get them done, you can then pick something new for the following year!