I don’t completely buy into New Year’s resolutions. I know that for some people, they work incredibly well. If that’s you, more power to you! Keep doing it and you do not need to keep reading this post.
For the rest of us, New Year’s resolutions often end up becoming another source for feelings of inadequacy and failure, ultimately reminding us of what we DIDN’T do in the past year.
It doesn’t have to be that way, though. If we shift our thinking about New Year’s resolutions from “goals to accomplish” to “directions to explore,” they can become a lot more helpful (and achievable!)
1. Don’t set your resolutions until you are ready. January 1 is just a date on a calendar, it doesn’t really mean anything. Give yourself time, after the craziness of the holidays, to let potential resolutions percolate through your thoughts organically. If you make yourself set resolutions because of the date, they may not reflect what you really want from your life.
2. Rather than thinking about what you want to “change,” “do,” or “fix” in your life, try out “expand,” “grow,” “stabilize,” “concentrate” or “explore.” Not only are these words more neutral in tone, they are also about a process of growth rather than a behavior correction (which even sounds bad!)
3. Rather than goals, think of your resolutions as experiments. For example, a typical resolution for lots of people this time of year is weight and exercise. Switching out “I will lose 25 pounds and work-out at the gym 5 days a week” for “I will look for ways to increase the amount I move my body. I will expand my repertoire of healthy recipes that I really love to cook and eat” could mean the difference between feeling like a failure and actually making a change during the year.
For another example, if you believe that you are over committed , try “I will concentrate my time on the people and activities that really make me happy.”
5. If you are wanting to explore an area that feels really stuck, I highly recommend you get professional help. Professionals such as therapists (OK, my bias is showing), coaches, trainers, organizers, financial planners, nutritionists, etc, can make a real difference in our ability to make some shifts in stuck places.
If you want some help changing your goals to experiments, leave me a comment telling me your goal and I’ll comment back with a suggestion of how to make it an experiment.
Good luck and I wish for you all the small moments of goodness 2016 has to offer.