Everyone talks about New Year’s resolutions, but how to make resolutions that work?
Honestly, New Year’s resolutions and I have a checkered past. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. When they don’t I end up feeling like a failure – and feeling like a failure is no way to start off a brand new year. I’ve found that writing down my aspirations for the New Year as opposed to making resolutions is a lot more effective. In fact, it can lead to some amazing developments.
What Are Aspirations?
New Year’s aspirations are, in a nutshell, resolutions that work. An aspiration is a positively worded affirmation of something you would like to achieve. For example, instead of ‘I resolve to de-clutter and get rid of the mess I’ve accumulated’ (which is actually very critical) you might affirm that ‘This year I am making positive choices about the things I choose to keep around me, ensuring that everything in my home is either beautiful, useful or deeply sentimental’. ‘I will lose ten pounds’ might be ‘I am making healthy choices about what I eat’.
You get the idea. Affirmations should be worded kindly, in the affirmative and as if they are actually happening right now. Use ‘I am’ instead of ‘I will’ and don’t criticise yourself.
How To Make New Year Resolutions That Work
Brainstorm what you would like to achieve
Sit down quietly for about ten minutes on two or three occasions – if you can carve out a whole quiet half hour or more that is even better – and brainstorm some of the things you’d like to achieve in the year to come. Jot them all down, point form, in a notebook, computer, wherever (I use my iPad as it comes with me everywhere). I find electronic documents work best for me as I can amend them easily but if handwritten works best for you, go with that.
Review what you have written
Look at it kindly, in a positive light. Think about what you’d say to a friend who wanted to achieve something similar. Transform your points (which you may find are surprisingly self-critical) into positive, affirmative, present-tense statements.
Look for a theme
See if you can find a theme developing within the affirmations you’ve written down. It may be blindingly obvious or it may seem that everything you’ve written down is totally unrelated. If the latter is the case, just start working with your affirmations.
You can’t get this wrong, so don’t worry if a theme doesn’t seem clear immediately. One year, it took me almost three weeks of working with mine before I I was inspired by a quote from Gretchen Rubin and decided to use the theme ‘An Atmosphere of Growth’. Other years a theme is clear to me straight away, like the year I chose ‘Read More, Worry Less’.
Create a master list
Put these affirmations into a document you can look at every day. If you know what your theme is, write it at the top of the list. If not, just leave a space for it – it will make itself known eventually. Keep your affirmations document on your iPad as I do, or print it off and put it on your office wall or the fridge. Just make sure it’s somewhere that it is easy to look at regularly, preferably first thing in the morning. Read your list every day.
Be open to inspiration
Keep your eyes open for tools that will help you achieve your aspirations. Books, blogs, seminars, online TED talks – be open to all the knowledge and support that is out there.
Review your progress regularly
Congratulate yourself on your successes and encourage yourself to continue with your tougher aspirations. You may find your aspirations evolve and change throughout the year. That’s okay too. One of the beauties of aspirations is that nothing is carved in stone.
You Can’t Fail With Aspirations
You can’t fail when you are aspiring
While I may not always achieve my aspirations, the ones I have achieved have enhanced my life. Any aspirations I don’t achieve – and that are still relevant at the end of the next year – simply go on the next year’s aspirations list. There’s no time limit on aspiring!
Some unachieved aspirations will simply slip away. We change a lot in the course of a year – some of the things I thought I wanted in Januarys gone by are really are not that important to me anymore. That’s okay. In fact, knowing that is a really good thing.
Aspirations have been helping me grow personally, professionally and emotionally for a number of years now. I encourage you to give them a try.
What will you aspire to this year? Do you have a theme? Please let me know in the comments so we can encourage one other!