Are you making a New Years Resolution or a New You Resolution?
Who decided that New Years Day was a good day for resolutions? You are tired, overfed, over-sugared, possibly hung over and surrounded by family, some of whom you may not even like.
Is this the day for sugar withdrawal? Or to do a new workout routine? Or to finally start that book? Definitely not! You are just asking to fail if you try to start a whole new lifestyle on the heels of so much debauchery.
So what should you do instead?
Change up your timing
There is nothing wrong with resolutions; living a better life should be a priority for all of us. But the most important changes in our lives are too valuable to fail. And 80% of New Years Resolutions do fail.
Because timing is everything, as they say. New Year’s Resolutions are usually made with a minimum of forethought and no planning. We just say, “gee, I’d like to have a better work life balance” and expect that it will be enough to sustain some new habits for the year.
Let’s be real. Nothing ever changes with words alone, you need some actions to back it up.
So this year, if you decide that Work-Life Balance is your goal, or that you will take part in a 5K, get real about it. Spend the month of January creating an action plan for the year. Pick a day to start that makes sense for you. Maybe the 15th or February 1st?
If you have ever recuperated from an injury or illness, you are aware of the need to think and plan your goals. Deciding you are going to walk down the aisle of your sister’s wedding is not something that just happens because you wish it so. A lot of planning and effort goes into achieving that. And more than one setback.
So, don’t be one of the lemmings who make New Year’s Resolutions and then crowd the gym in January, only to be gone by the end of the month. You are better than that.
Choose a Resolution
What would you like to change? Do more of something, or less? Try something new? Fitness and health top the list every year. We can all get on board with that. Being better organized is always a popular one too. What is your goal?
Now that you have a goal, is it reasonable and realistic? Say it out loud to yourself as though explaining it to someone else. Does it sound possible/impossible? Keep adjusting this goal until you can say it simply and feel good about it.
It needs to be specific though. Being better organized is not a goal, it’s a category. Try to define exactly what you want to achieve. Is it to manage your calendar better and not miss any appointments or deadlines? Or is it to have a more organized space? If your answer is “all of those things” then you are going to need a strategy to achieve all of that, maybe even some professional help.
What changes will you need to make? Name 1-3 small changes you can make to your lifestyle every day that will help you towards your goal. Leaving work by 5 pm everyday is not small, if you usually leave by 6 pm. Try leaving by 5 pm one day a week to start.
Remember to start small. Getting more exercise can start with taking a walk after dinner every night. Taking the stairs at work and parking at the far end of the parking lot wherever you go. You do not need to spend a bunch of money or sign up for something to make changes.
Do some research. Go to the library; hit the internet. Find creative ways to achieve your goals. Better work-life balance might start with better time management, or maybe learning to use video chat more effectively. New skills can go a long way to helping us achieve our goals. But remember – small changes.
Once you’ve sustained the first set of small changes for 3 months, then consider adding 1-3 new ones. Not trying to take on too much change at once makes it more achievable.
Focus on habits. The best way to achieve lasting change in your life is to have good habits. Starting or changing them one by one is more effective than you realize. If you can define a couple of new habits to start with, then you will be in a whole new place by the end of the year.
Think about using our Life Planning Printables to help with your planning.
Make It Last
Change is hard. No matter what you want to change, and no matter how determined you are, you will trip up from time to time. That’s okay. Part of success is handling setbacks. You need to allow for them. Know they are coming and have a plan for that too. And most importantly, forgive yourself.
What is your support system? How will you stay on track when you are short on time? How will you handle it on a day that you are sad? For some of us, support means friends and family, for others it means a great book or music for mood, and picking up the phone to save time. Think about it before you are desperate.
Accept that you are not perfect and that life is messy, which means that change has a very rocky road and that you can handle it if you are persistent.
Congratulate yourself and celebrate when you do well. Maybe a run of 7 perfect days in a road earn you a new book, or album. Select something that is a real treat for you, that does not sabotage your goals.