Tips for Making – And Keeping – New Year’s Resolutions

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Post-blackberry pies, dry Christmas trees and one of my favorite Christmas movies –The Muppet Christmas Carol – the holidays have ended and it is a new year. As I write this on my bed, my windows are fogging from the cold and there is snow on the northeast grounds of San Diego. New Year’s Eve was last night. Aud lang syne boomed through confetti-ed air, and an old year was replaced with a new one.

If hope is a thing with feathers – as Emily Dickinson once suggested – then January flies. For me, a new year is always filled with promise. As I swap out my old kitchen calendar for a new one and write resolutions in composition books, I am reminded that the next year is full of creative possibility. For me, if January were a feeling, it would be standing blindfolded in front of a piñata, bat in hand.

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January means ocean water so cold, I can’t will my teeth to stop chattering. January means my bare feet sting on the asphalt of the parking lot at dawn, and the light is clean and yellow. January is a new beginning. The possibility of what-could-be charges the winter air like electricity. It’s also when I sit, PJ-clad under the covers writing New Year’s resolutions.

I’m a fan of New Year’s resolutions, and I’ve made them year after year. At the same time, I’ve realized in my late twenties, that there are things I’ve always wanted to be, that I might never be. Like there’s this woman I’ve always wanted to meet, and she’s the portrait of discipline with a closet that would make Rachel Zoe envious.

My sisters on the bridge at The Venetian in Las Vegas over the holidays.

My sisters on the bridge at The Venetian in Las Vegas over the holidays.

But maybe I don’t really want to be her, anyway. In my older age, I’m advocating for saner, kinder New Year’s resolutions.

Happy New Year, everyone! Here are some tips to consider if/when you’re pen in hand, making New Year’s resolutions. I hope you all have lazy days ahead spent with family and friends.

1. Focus on relationships and experiences

We tend to think a new Rolex or spending more time on the treadmill are surefire roads to happiness, but if we let those things define us, ultimately, they’re disappointing. We remember experiences more than we remember things, so this year, focus on things like joining a book club or booking that trip to Maccu Piccu. In a lot of ways, your relationships and new experiences are the best predictors of well-being.

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2. Write down the why

It can be difficult to stick to a goal if you aren’t constantly reminding yourself of why you’re working towards it in the first place. So if your goal is to get that promotion or write a book this year, write down why – what rewards will come from those things, i.e. being able to pay for a yoga membership or grow in your craft. If you’re reminding yourself of the benefits you’ll reap from working towards your goal, you’ll be a lot more likely to stick to it.

3. Be specific

Saying “I’m going to be healthier,” or for me, “I’m going to write more” is too vague – you can’t really figure that out. Say exactly what you’re going to do, write it down and check it off. Checking off those things on your to-do list will make you feel really good about yourself.

4. Believe in your aspirations

The new year, to me, is about believing in my aspirations. Placing my trust that my dreams are valid, and that they can be realized.

Our dreams are often scary, but there’s something holy about dreams. In my experience, when we go after our deepest aspirations – magical things happen.

Take a leap of faith and begin this year by believing. Believe in yourself. Maybe you even believe that there is a source waiting to help you make your dreams come true.

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