Saturday, January 4, 2014

You May Want to Change Your New Year's Resolutions NOW!

Here we are in the first week of 2014 and many of us have made resolutions.  We have high hopes and lofty pledges.  We are going to lose 50 pounds.  We are determined to get in shape.  We promise to read more.  We will pray more.  We resolve to be a better parent.  We are determined to get our finances in order.  We vow to get our house organized.  Do any of these sound like your resolutions?  (Or something similar?)

We make these resolutions with the best of intentions.  We are so full of hope.  But just a few weeks into the new year, people find they are not sticking with their resolutions.  The aftermath is feelings of guilt, frustration or indifference. How is it that we can be so excited for the New Year only for this excitement to quickly fade?  Where did we go wrong?  What can we do to make these resolutions stick?

A huge part of the problem is that enormity of resolutions.  I will lose 50 pounds--while there is nothing wrong with this goal, look how long it could be before you feel any sense of accomplishment.  Same with getting in shape or getting finances in order.  Break down large, lofty goals into smaller sub-goals that will lead to the large goal.  That way, you will feel a sense of accomplishment along the way, which can be very motivating.  For example, getting the house is an overwhelming goal.  Why not, instead, break it into smaller tasks, such as organize the closet, go through the kitchen junk drawers, go through bathroom cabinet...etc.  This way, you have a checklist of smaller goals that will lead to the ultimate goal.  As far as losing weight, what steps will you have to take to lose the weight?  List these out as individual goals (e.g. I will eat 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day, I will limit myself to 3 sodas a week, etc.).

Another problem with resolutions are that they are often very vague.  What exactly determines if you are a better parent?  Or if you are "in shape?"  Vague resolutions are certain death. Being a better parent could mean anything and without any specifics, you may not see what you are actually doing to reach that goal.  Add specific behaviors to your goal.  Examples, “I will have family game night two times a month,”  “I will say one positive thing to my child daily,”  or “I will read a book and find more creative solutions to parenting and work to implement 2 of them.”  When thinking about getting in shape, set mini-goals such as "walk 15 minutes daily," "do an exercise video three times a week." By having this specific, well-defined goal, you will be more focused on what you need to do to achieve your goal.

The last thing I want to mention is to journal about your goals.  This could be as simple as making a chart to check off the number of times you worked out or a checklist of areas of the house to organize.  Or it could be more in-depth to where you look at your resolution's mini-goals on a regular basis, evaluate your progress and make adjustments.  Seeing your progress in writing can help you to complete your goals and inspire you to set new ones!

Following these three tips will help you to make greater progress in reaching your resolutions.  So, maybe you need to rethink your resolutions for success!

Happy New Year!

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