Haven’t made your New Year’s resolutions, yet? Read this first.
January is a time when most people make (and fail to keep) their New Year’s resolutions. In the past, I have engaged in this practice and, after failing miserably, decided to avoid it. I was recently encouraged to take up the practice again, but to alter the way I made resolutions. Tiny changes can really make a difference. Here are five things I have learned about making resolutions.
Instead of making a full year goal, make a goal for a shorter period of time. For instance, use “in the next three months” or “in the month of January” or even “this week”. Making the finish line closer can help you reach your goal. Then write it on your to do list or mark a circle on your calendar for encouragement. Post it on the bathroom mirror to remind yourself what you would like to do. Put a sticky note on your steering wheel, but don’t read it while you are driving!
Change the wording. Replace “I will” with “I want to” or “I would like to”. “I will” may sound more definitive, but “I want to” helps you relax. And bring more relaxed can actually help you reach your goal sooner! Plus, it expressed a desire instead of a demand. Being demanding can make someone purposely resist the demand…or at least that is how it works with my kids! (Um, no stubbornness in our family…ah-hem…moving on!)
Make your goal something small. For instance, “I would like to sort, purge and organize the linen closet”. (This one may not be small enough!) “I would like to read one non-fiction book for every two fiction books I finish”. “I would like to drink only water at lunch to replace my soda”. “I would like to go to the library and pick out books with my kids once a month”. “I would like to go on a date with my husband once this month.” There are lots of ideas, but work to keep them small.
AND, if you want to make a BIG GOAL, think in baby steps first. If you want to accomplish a major goal, try breaking it down into smaller steps to give you small victories along the way. For example, if you are trying to work on the major goal of saving money or sticking with a budget, make smaller goals concerning one area of your finances. If you work outside the home, set a limit for how much you will spend on your lunch or take your lunch with you one or more days a week. Or make your goal to shift $5 or more from your checking account into your savings account on the first day of every week. Sort one shelf in the linen closet. Baby steps and little victories can help you take the path to the BIG GOAL successfully.
Make some completely fun or ridiculous goals. Shoot for something that might make you or someone else laugh. Try “I want to learn to give the dog a bath”. “I want to take the kids to the zoo on a school day.” “I want to learn to play the kazoo”. “I want to help my kids learn to use the camera” (Oh, the pictures you will end up with on that camera!). “I will wear pink on Fridays and see if anyone notices the trend”. “I will not wear matched socks once a week just for fun”. “I will wear my hair in the same manner I did in high school to church one Sunday.” (That will get a laugh!)
Give yourself a break. Life happens. Children get sick. Pets die. Schedules change. Things come up. No human is perfect. When things don’t go the way you want them to, get duck feathers. Shake off the disappointment and swim…uh, I mean move…on.
Be encouraged. You, too, can make resolutions. And you can keep them. Won’t everyone be jealous when they hear you have already met all your goals and January is not even over, yet? Just don’t share what they were…or do and laugh together.