A twist on New Year's Resolutions that works
It is already the second day of 2022 and I am sure all of you have thought about what you want to do differently this year.
New Year's Resolutions seem necessary but daunting. They feel obligatory and the pressure to come up with resolutions is far easier to keep them.
If you have been reading my blog for very long, you know I am not a fan of the New Year Resolution. It sets us up to fail.
We make big goals and plans for ourselves starting day 1 of the new year and become disgusted and discouraged when we fail to reach our goals by Spring. In fact, most people have completely given up on their New Year's Resolutions by February.
Why is failure so imminent? Because we do not factor in life. We can resolve to hit the gym 5 days a week, drink more water, eat less calories, organize and declutter our homes, but we fail to budget into the equation changes that impact our trajectory for success.
Whether it is a major illness or a minor setback, it can disrupt our momentum and throw us off course leading to a failure to reach the goals we set on January 1.
The solution? Here are some tips to make changes in 2022 easier and more achievable:
1. Stop setting resolutions and start setting intentions:
Intentions are things you make plans for and when repeated, create habits.
Habits are created by repeating the same behaviors over and over.
How practical is it to expect to wake on January 1st and become a new person overnight? To have shed all of those bad habits with the passing year and start fresh with new behaviors instantly.
Actually, that is a crazy idea! And, practically impossible.
So, what is possible?
What would you like to do differently in 2022? What changes would you like to see?
Make a list of intentions and then list daily behaviors that can make that change happen.
For example: I want to exercise more in 2022. Making that declaration does not mean it is going to happen. Sure, I can get a gym membership and maybe I will use it faithfully for a few weeks or months but life happens and eventually I will stop going and lose sight of my goal.
Instead, choose to wake up every day with the intention of doing some form of exercise. Maybe it will be going to the gym, taking a yoga class, or walking around the neighborhood. But, it might be doing 15 minutes of yoga at home, walking around the parking lot during lunch at work, or walking the dog after work.
The key is to make it purposeful and remind yourself that effort is just that, effort. And, each day you put forth the effort, it becomes easier and more of what you do. Naturally, over time, it becomes a habit.
This thing called "life" cannot disrupt this system. Perhaps you have been on a streak. Exercising faithfully every day and then a family member is hospitalized. You are spending the evenings at the hospital and do not have time for the gym. However, you can still get exercise by walking the halls of the hospital or the parking lot. Maybe, you just park as far from the doors of the hospital each day you visit and make that long trek inside your walk for the day? If your goal was to go to the gym daily, you would fail. If your intention is to get some form of exercise, you succeed.
2. Build a personal planner:
Most of us buy that new planner each year to keep track of appointments and obligations. This year, customize your planner to include your intentions for 2022.
Keep yourself accountable by revisiting your intentions and the behaviors you wish to create. Make a check list for yourself each day:
* Did I get some form of exercise today?
* Did I drink at least 60 ounces of water today?
* Did I keep a detailed food journal today?
You should also include a section in that planner for daily gratitude and affirmations. We must give ourselves grace and keep our thought process positive. Jot down what you are grateful for each day and make a list of what you did accomplish.
* I had a busy schedule at work but managed to walk the parking lot at lunch for 30 minutes
* I had one less soda today than I normally drink and I survived
* I woke up, made my bed, put away clean laundry, and loaded my dishwasher
This planner not only serves to keep you accountable for your intentions and behaviors but it also allows you to track your progress and see how far you have come since January 1st. Sometimes we lose sight of that and it can be discouraging. Focusing on the positives is far more beneficial to achieving a goal than only noting what we failed to do.
3. Set a theme and build your intentions around it:
What do you wish to accomplish this year? Is it to lower your cholesterol and get off your blood pressure medications? Maybe, you wish to become more organized and less cluttered at home? Or, you may want to lose weight and get into better shape physically. Whatever your wish may be, make a list (not a new year's resolution list, just a wish list) and then find a general theme among those wishes.
For example, let's say you wish to lose 50 pounds, improve your eating habits, and lower your cholesterol. Your theme could be "Healthy". Now you can set intentions to help you achieve your state of healthiness:
* Drink at least 20 ounces of water each morning before leaving home
* Take a prepared meal from home for lunch at least 3 days a week
* Do something physically active at least 10 minutes each day
* Eat less fried foods and more foods lower in saturated fats
Create "doable" things you can accomplish each day. These little behavior changes will lead to bigger changes over time and create new habits that make them more effortless.
Here are some examples of behaviors you can set to achieve each day:
* Meal prep for the week to avoid impulse eating that leads to foods higher in saturated fats
* Each night, while watching TV, jog in place during commercials
* Download an app that will assist you in tracking your calorie and water intake daily
Use your planner to revisit these intentions and check off the days you were successful in accomplishing these behavior changes.
4. Build onto your daily intentions until you have successfully made a change:
Like I stated earlier, change does not happen overnight. It takes repeated efforts to create habits that lead to change.
Giving up all sugary drinks and turning to solely water may not be feasible for you if you currently drink a 12 pack of Coca Cola each day and rarely pick up a bottle of water. However, we can start slow and build from there.
Maybe you have one bottle of water each day and one less coke? After this has become easy to accomplish, add more water and less soda until you are drinking mostly water and only occasional sodas. This could take weeks or months. Do not get caught up in the time frame. We all work at different paces. The goal is to get there!
This is true for any change you wish to make, be it weight loss, organization, or money saving. Small changes over time lead to new habits.
I wish you great success in all your efforts in 2022. If the last two years have taught us anything, they have taught us that nothing is guaranteed and the most well made plans can be derailed easily. But, daily intentions can be accomplished even during a pandemic!
Happy New Year,