Feeling like a failure is no way to start off a brand new year. Yet every year billions of us make New Years resolutions knowing it’s extremely likely we’ll fail to keep them. What if I told you that with just four simple steps you really can make New Year’s resolutions that work?
Step 1 – Be realistic
It’s always good to be optimistic but it’s important to set realistic, achievable goals. If you have been resolving for years to lose that last stubborn 20 pounds, this year why not resolve to lose 10? Once you have done that, it will be much easier to lose the rest. If you only lose 10 pounds and keep it off your resolution was a success. If you go on to lose that further 10, well, that’s even better! Need to sort out your home? Resolve your way through your home one room at a time. Twelve months is a long time. You don’t have to map out it all out ahead of time.
Step 2 – Be kind to yourself
For many years I have made New Year aspirations instead of resolutions. However, whether you choose the gentler path of aspirations or work towards setting New Year’s resolutions, you need to be kind to yourself in how you phrase them. For example ‘I resolve to de-clutter and get rid of the mess I’ve accumulated’ or ‘I’m too fat so I need to lose weight’ are very self-critical. Instead, resolve to ‘make positive choices about the things I keep in my home, making sure everything is either beautiful, useful or sentimental’ or to ‘make healthy choices about the food that I eat so that I look and feel better’. Being kind to yourself is absolutely crucial to making New Year’s resolutions that work.
Step 3 – Decide on a Theme
Take a look at the things you would like to achieve and see how you can work with them to develop a theme for the coming year. For example, in 2013 my theme was ‘An Atmosphere of Growth’. In 2014 it was ‘Abundance, Trust and Fun’. This year my theme is to ‘Read More and Worry Less’. The ‘read more’ part actually refers to taking time out to do the things I love. When Goodreads informed me that I’d only read 5 books for pleasure this year I realized something had to give. I felt guilty doing something I enjoyed when I hadn’t ticked all the ‘to do’s’ off my to do list. So ‘read more’ is a reminder to me to ‘take time out to do the things you love every day no matter how busy you are’ – things like reading, baking and taking long walks. Worry less is pretty self-explanatory but it also takes into account my tendency to jump from zero to worst case scenario in 30 seconds or less. It’s a reminder to me to panic less and trust more. So for me, 2015 is the year of Reading More and Worrying Less.
Step 4 – Be flexible
We are so critical of ourselves. Be sure to grant yourself the grace and flexibility you give to others. You may even find that resolutions you set on December 31st have very little meaning or bearing on your life 12 months later. It’s okay to let your resolutions evolve and grow though the year, just like you do!
With these four simple steps, it is easy to make New Year’s Resolutions that Work. The most important thing to remember is that whether you achieve them or not, if the person you are on New Year’s Eve is stronger and wiser than he or she was this time last year, you have achieved something to be very proud of.