It’s the start of a new year and you are probably tempted to make ALL THE RESOLUTIONS. Before you do, stop right there. We both know you’ll just end up burned out and frustrated.
The reality is, most resolutions fail. The likelihood of your resolutions still being on track by the end of January are slim, UNLESS you are smart about it.
Before you decide on your New Year’s Resolutions, make sure you:
- Set concrete goals. Open-ended resolutions cannot be tracked and will leave you frustrated.
- Focus on one main resolution. Creating a long list of things you’d like to focus on pretty much guarantees you won’t do any of them.
- Break your resolution into steps. Smaller parts of a goal are easier to reach. Make a plan before you start working on your resolution.
- Write your resolutions down. If they stay in your head, they aren’t going to happen. Put them on paper and post them somewhere visible.
- Tell other people about your resolutions. It keeps you accountable and lets them help you stay on track.
Resolutions NOT to Make
With those ground rules in place, you have a good shot and sticking to your resolutions long-term. Now it’s time for the resolutions themselves. If you are thinking about making any of the following resolutions, take a minute to consider a few alternatives.
Lose ten pounds.
Let’s face it. Your body may not corporate for this one. There’s nothing like determining how successful you feel by a number on the scale. Losing weight is great, but getting healthy is probably your ultimate goal. Don’t set a goal for your scale.
Instead, focus on goals that promote health. Drink 8 glasses of water a day. Get 8 hours of sleep a night. Exercise 30 minutes several times a week. Wherever you are at now, set a concrete health goal that takes you to the next level.
Sign up for a gym membership and make a plan to go. If you don’t have time to go to the gym (or just want something a little more private), we LOVE Grokker and right now they have a free 2 week trial if you sign up here.
You may very well lose those ten pounds, but, even if you don’t, you can still have success with your resolution by succeeding in the concrete goals you set.
Become a better person.
I WISH we could all just set a goal of becoming better people and have it happen. Unfortunately, life is not that straight-forward. While this is a great goal, finding a way to see progress is hard and generally leaves you feeling not quite good enough.
Instead, focus on things that you would like to do (that may ultimately make you a better person). Set service goals that you’ve been meaning to fit in. Schedule a time to volunteer locally several times a month. Make a goal not to yell at your kids for 2 weeks straight. Find one way to serve your family each day. Whatever it is, make it something you can check off each day/week/month so you know that you are making progress.
Get out of debt.
This is a common resolution (especially after all that holiday spending), but it can be overwhelming depending on how much debt you have. What most people do is set a strict budget, get burned out in a week, and go right back to their old habits. A lot of times, that ends up putting you in a worse position than when you started because you may accumulate more debt when you relapse.
Instead, make small changes that are trackable and sustainable. Set clear goals that stretch you a bit but don’t push you beyond what you can reasonably keep up long-term. Read The 2% Rule to Get Debt Free Fast by the couple behind the popular blog, The Thrifty Couple. They managed to get rid of almost $100k in debt in just over 3 years by following their formula for small and steady changes.
Learn to Play an Instrument.
Most of us probably wish we were more musical. I know I wish I’d listened a bit more to my high school piano teacher so that I could play a few more things other than Chopsticks now. The problem with big resolutions like this, is they don’t give us any clear path towards our end goal. Our skills may not develop at the speed we expect them to (or as easily as we want them to) so we may need a more more details when making our resolution.
Instead, resolve to take the next steps. Maybe you need to actually buy an instrument first. In that case, make a plan to save for one and make the purchase. Maybe you have the instrument but never learned to play. Give yourself and end-date to find an instructor and start lessons, then make a goal to practice for a set amount of time each day or week.
I so wish we could just resolve to get organized and all the pieces of our life would just fall together. In reality, it’s complicated and there are many moving parts that need to be considered. This resolution is setting you up for frustration by giving you no clear thing to focus on.
Instead, determine what you want to organize and how you want to do it. Is household clutter making you crazy? Set aside 15 minutes a day to declutter. Is there a specific area of your home or schedule that you want to get under control. Create a written plan and set aside time in your schedule each day to work on it. Find a great paper planner and give your weeks some structure (we recommend this one).
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