. New Year’s Resolutions
Sometimes people ask me about New Year’s Resolutions. I am all for them, but I think they fail, not because we aren’t serious about changing, but because we try to make resolutions and begin to keep them in the midst of holiday stress, illness, and chaos.
I have learned to make up my New Year’s Resolutions with everyone else on New Year’s Eve and/or New Year’s Day but then put them away until the third week of January.
By that time, everything, or at least most everything in my life, has settled back into a semblance of routine. We have taken down the holidays decorations, the kids have returned to school, employment routines are re-established, and my world is running more or less smoothly. Yes, the road is bumpy and there are occasional potholes, but who wants to life without some “excitement”?
At the beginning of the third week, usually on Sunday, I sit alone and make an assessment. What do I want to change? How much change can my life stand? What is most important? What is realistic? (I mean, after all, I still get tired, cranky, and am non-responsive at times.)
Then, I make up a list of my 2008 goals (which include about 80% of the goals from last year and about 20% new goals which keeps it interesting and reinforces habits I am still working on). Then I pull out my calendar and see where I can begin to include these goals into my routines. This moves them from goals to “activities” that are much more accomplishable for me.
For instance, last year I wanted to read more. I decided that ten minutes a day, five days a week, would be an adequate amount of improvement and actually a great source of joy if I was successful. Then I decided I would read at a certain time each day, attaching this new activity to a known, regular routine in my life. Finally, I put books upstairs and downstairs, near reading chairs and at my desk, so that when the time arrived, I could plop down and begin reading without any setup. When my ten minutes was up (about the length of a shower), I could return my book to its “home” and return myself to regular duties. No one was hurt, no one was really ignored, no one was the worse off for my “fun and distracting play”. It was a wonderful plan and for the most part worked well!
This year, I have new resolutions …. so do you. First, decide upon them (I like to keep the number to three since as that is a small enough number to memorize). Second, write them down somewhere permanent (so you can look at them occasionally). Third, figure out how to put goal activities (about 10 minutes at a time) into your regular routines, attaching the new activity to a well-established routine. Finally, keep at it, keep at it, keep at it. You won’t be better in a day, a week, or a month, but with a year’s practice, you can do anything (even get to read regularly again).
Find more helpful ideas in my House of Order Handbook.
Photo from sxc.hu. Used with permission of pjmorley.