res·o·lu·tion [rez-uh–loo-shuh n]
noun: the act of resolving or determining upon an action or course of action, method, procedure, etc.; the mental state or quality of being resolved or resolute; firmness of purpose.
Ah, New Year’s day. A day for downing Advil and melting into the couch while waiting for your hangover to pass. A day of renewal and fresh starts.
Majority of Americans believe that making New Year’s resolutions is counterproductive and a waste of time, and I agree with them, in part.
Calendar-time encourages us to believe that Jan. 1 is the best day to start becoming a better you. But why today? Why not start chomping on some Nicorette on any old Tuesday? Why wait until now? There is a non-sensical, backwards quality to a New Year’s resolution that can’t be ignored.
Despite all that, I make resolutions. Resolutions help me to focus on changing unsavory behaviors, and they help me to remember my goals throughout the year. As a lifelong resolution-er, I’ve formulated both good and bad goals for myself, and I’ve learned a few things.
If a resolution is too unrealistic, not specific enough, or is not truly in line with what we want, we will abandon that resolution by February. However, by taking a little time to pick our resolutions carefully, we can harness the power that lies behind a well-made resolution.
#1. What will make me happier? This could mean eliminating negative behaviors, or it could mean adding more things to your life that will bring you joy. For example, do you wish you would have watched more movies last year? Make a resolution to watch one move a week. It’s realistic, and it’s a resolution you will be excited to stick to.
#2. Choose concrete goals. It’s important to be specific. “Be more positive,” “Eat healthier,” and “Enjoy the moment” are well-intentioned, but they are too vague. You can’t measure the results. How are you going to be more positive? What steps will you follow? Lay it out.
#3. Be realistic. Start small. My super ambitious goal of “Lose 20 lbs by February” never came to pass. You accomplish more by taking small steps to create major change. You also avoid burn out by focusing on the task at hand rather than the final product.
#4. Track your progress. Find a way to make sure you stick to your resolution. Find a way to be accountable to yourself. For example, I wanted to surf 100 days in one year once. I wrote down each time I went surfing and where in a planner.
-Surf 150 days;
-Find a volunteer program to work with;
-Meditate at least four days a week (yoga);
-Take a class;
-Cook from a recipe one night a week;
-Workout four days a week (surfing counts); and
-Read 20 books.