It’s New Year’s! Happy New Year! Did you make some resolutions? I really like Jessica’s post about choosing a focus for the year, rather than a specific goal or resolution. I think it’s more practical and something you can actually work towards.
Here’s the thing with a New Year’s Resolution … they are nice in theory, but the way we usually approach them sets us up for failure. Maybe I’m the only one? I said recently, I’m an expert at giving up, so learn from my failures. Let me explain.
On a usual New Year, I decide that THIS is the year I am going to be perfect! I never say that out loud or write it down anywhere, but in my head I think of all these awesome things I’m going to accomplish in a the new year. I’m going to eat healthy all the time, get regular exercise, organize my whole house and catch up on 13 years worth of scrapbooking. I never mentally say, “I’m going to be perfect!” but I start making ridiculous, unrealistic lists in my head. It’s silly.
So, what can you do instead to avoid setting yourself up for failure? Here are some ideas:
- Read Jessica’s post about finding a Focus.
- Whatever you choose to call it — focus, goal, resolution — pick something you can control. Losing X number of pounds or fitting into a certain size are not things you can directly control. You can control the food you eat and the exercise you participate in. Yes, eating healthier and improving your exercise can help you attain those desirable numbers, but it’s not a direct formula. Your body is unique and many factors influence numbers, so pick something you control.
- Don’t think you have to start something just because it is New Year’s. Most people are not in their normal routine on New Year’s Day, so maybe it will make more sense for you to work towards your focus/goal starting January 2nd or next Monday or next month. Only you can determine what will work for you. Choose something that will set you up to win. My husband and I are doing a little challenge for the month of January, but we were invited to a party on New Year’s Day that will make it hard to start our challenge on January 1st. So, we decided we’d start January 2nd, not because we’re total slackers, but because it will make more sense for us. [Update: Due to bad weather, we couldn’t make it to the party, so we had to suck it up and start January 1. No excuses! Ha ha!]
- Don’t believe in the all or nothing mindset. Maybe you want to cut a certain food out of your diet or add a certain exercise to your routine. It doesn’t have to be a drastic change. In fact, you might do better if you do things more slowly. Try cutting out that soda one day a week. The next week, try cutting it for two days. Maybe you want to get up earlier in the morning to exercise. If you are trying to get to a certain class, you might just have to get up early. But, if you are doing something more flexible, let yourself gradually get used to waking up earlier. In a post at The Art of Simple from 2010, Tsh Oxenreider explains the Kaizen approach to change. It’s worth clicking over to read.
- Find a friend to join you on your focus/goal. Having someone join you on your journey will help you stay accountable and motivated. Plus, it can be more fun! Change is hard, so why not have someone to share your misery with? 😉 Not sure if you know someone who can be your buddy? Contact Jessica or myself! That’s why we’re here. Visit our “About” page to find our contact info or connect with us on Facebook.
- Don’t compare your focus/goal with anyone else. You are unique. You are at a different place in your life than your friend. You have a different life than that person who seems to have a more exciting goal than yours. Get ideas from others, but don’t let what someone else is doing define you.
- Remember that making changes aren’t always that exciting. I love this quote from Donald Miller, “Our ambitions don’t have to be exciting to be meaningful, they only have to be clear.” Eating more salad isn’t very exciting, but it can be very meaningful if it helps improve your health. Our culture is all about flashy and famous and who can get the most attention. The daily choices you make that lead to better health are not flashy and probably won’t make us famous. But, small changes over time lead to the big picture of better health. Remember that when your Facebook friend loses 20 lbs on the latest fad diet. Your small changes are making a difference, even if it doesn’t seem very dramatic! Remember the snowball effect. It’s true.
- Incorporate some sort of story into your focus/goal. I wrote about this before, and I think it really works. You make it a goal to accomplish something or participate in an event to keep you motivated. Last year, I was signed up for the Warrior Dash, so it kept me motivated to keep working out, because I wanted to be able to finish that race. You could sign up for a race, too, or plan to hike a certain trail, climb a mountain, bike across your state … I’m sure the possibilities are endless!
- And, lastly, it’s not too late to join the Small Changes Challenge. It’s a great way to work towards some goals by slowly working on something each week. Read all the posts here on the blog or click over to the Facebook group. There is a prize involved, and it’s not too late to join for the prize!
What are your tips for success in the New Year? Share in the comments!
Cori is a wife, mom of three and random writer who is learning how to take small steps towards big goals. She tends to be an all-or-nothing kind of person, but a journey to learn how to run (something she always hated) has taught her a lot about gradual, slow change. She has a degree in journalism and enjoys doing research and writing.