Guest Post Written by Stacy Litke
A friend at work told me the other day that he had quit drinking coffee and alcohol recently so that when New Year’s rolled around he could resolve to start drinking coffee and alcohol and for once in his life would be successful at a resolution.
Certainly can’t argue with that logic, can you? Do you find yourself year after year making a goal, gearing up, and then finding yourself somewhere around the end of February thinking, “oh yeah, I was supposed to be skinnier/richer/less stressed by now.”
What is it with this tradition of self-improvement and subsequent self flogging?
For thousands of years, the new year has caused a moment of pause and reassessment for humans. Back then though the goals were simple. Give the house a good cleaning top to bottom. Count the sheep in the heard and resolve to add three more to the flock. Give back the rake you borrowed from the neighbor. Somewhere along the line, savvy marketers started feeding you ideas for your resolutions and they sent you out into the world to buy all the tools you’d need to make you successful.
This is why we seem to make resolutions in group think nowadays and head to the mall in droves to buy weight loss equipment, books on getting organized, and software to get our finances in order. Then we sign up for the gym membership we’ll use about three times and track our expenses for roughly six weeks before we decide we don’t have time for that tedium anymore.
So, what do you have in mind for the new year? Another vague goal like “get healthy” or “more work life balance”? If you do, you’re likely not committed to the project. If you’re committed you’ll think through the plan and you’ll have a more defined goal like “start walking around the block every other day” or “schedule one night a week as game night with the family.” Those types of goals are much more achievable. Once you’ve decided on the goal, put in on your calendar every day, every week, once a month, or whatever frequency makes sense for the goal. Writing it down and scheduling time for it makes it more real, and you’ll have the constant reminder.
A successful goal will also feel authentic to you. It should be something that speaks to your heart. Do you miss your sister, and you’ve been thinking about her? Resolve to call her every Sunday night. Have you found yourself stressed and impatient with your family at night? Resolve to prepare dinner in the morning when it’s quiet and others are still in bed. Then you can just pop it in the oven or serve it up when you get home and both times are less stressful for you. Find what it is that’s been nagging at you, and then create an action plan to resolve it.
After all, the origins of the word resolution are “a breaking into parts” or “the process of reducing things into simpler forms” and a “sense of solving”. It’s no coincidence that resolution, resolve and resolute all stem from the same root.
Another key to success is having a support system. Your spouse, best friend, family member or even a professional coach should be aware of what you’re trying to accomplish and be there to give you feedback or hold you accountable. And don’t give me that “I want to keep it to myself” line. That tells me you’re not committed and you are saving yourself an out. It also tells me you need to pick a different resolution because this one isn’t that important to you.
And finally, you need to have compassion for yourself. If you make a goal and don’t reach it, it doesn’t mean you’re a failure. There is something to be gained from every experience. Learn from it and move on.
Now, what happens when New Year’s rolls around and you can’t think of anything? Well, I’m pretty sure resolutions are optional. It’s not like paying taxes or feeding the dog. You can skip it and no one gets hurt. Personally for me, I set goals on my birthday. Another year on earth – what’s the focus of this one going to be? It’s your goal, you pick when you want to make it.
Enjoy the new year, and be mindful in your resolutions.
Stacy Litke is a Holistic Health Coach who works with busy professionals who want to live healthier lives. Her focus is on whole foods, simple cooking, and reconnecting with the things that matter most. You can find out more about her practice at http://www.humblespoon.com/.