Resolved to not make a resolution this year?
More and more, I run into people who don’t even bother with New Year’s resolutions. Supposedly, the average resolution lasts three days. Do you ever wonder why?
The New Year’s Resolution doesn’t stick for a lot of reasons. Often we bite off more than we can chew, quit smoking, lose weight, go to the gym. Sometimes it’s because we think we should do something so we try for our own good; eat more salads, ‘to get organized,’ find ‘the one’/finally break up with/move on from that %#@&*. Any of these examples could be beneficial in general and no doubt your idea for resolution makes sense for your life. The question is: are you set up for success?
Is your goal attainable?
“Set an attainable goal” is a phrase that gets tossed around a lot. OK, so what does it actually mean?
It begins with knowing what you want. Be as clear as possible and know when it’s right to remain open. Part of making a change is learning to discern your ‘bottom lines’ and when shifting and stretching is necessary to attain the goal.
Next ask yourself: what is the smallest achievable step? Breaking goals down to achievable bites means more successes. It’s easier to keep making better choices when we feel better. Especially when the old HALT (hungry, angry, lonely, tired, bleh!) is in play at decision-making time; so make the next step as easy as possible. Plan as best you can and be flexible. Making change is about trial and error and learning about what works for you.
The next question is: what support do I need to achieve this goal? Support comes in many, many packages, internal and external. External support is the form of friends near and far, social media connections through common interest groups/sites, books/articles, professionals and chance encounters. It’s a hug, an ice cream, a stress relieving massage. Internal support is being gentle with yourself (especially when you feel as if you have failed), making choices to take care of yourself even when you feel best taking care of others first, it’s talking yourself up inside not putting yourself down.
Internal supportis celebrating every victory and learning from experience. Internal support takes on the form of activities that you do for yourself because they make you feel good and recharge your batteries: being active or still, creative or entertained based on your need to recharge and feel supported. It’s knowing when and how to ask for external support, too.
External support is also about accountability. When we share our goals and desires with others, we become accountable for them. There is now an entity on the outside who knows what our personal standard is on the inside. That can be scary and feel like a reason to not seek that support. To make it easier to seek assistance, consider what’s important to you when asking for support in meeting your goals: Do you need a place to vent and a gentle kick in the pants when needed? Somewhere/someone who will still accept when you stumble and fall? Do you need someone/someplace where you will be given space to ‘lick your wounds’ and be cheered on to victory? It’s ok to ask your external support for what you need and accept they will do the best they can to meet your need. Support can take the forms of friend/partner, coach, trainer, teacher, therapist, clergy/congregation, doctor, real time and web-based group knitted together by common interest.
What is your definition of success? Are you only successful when you lose all fifty pounds or organize the entire junk room in one weekend? Some things are more clearly defined like changing a relationship status or career. Yet, within those black and white choices are always smaller steps that can be taken to create success. Celebrating every victory doesn’t mean a party for every little thing. It means taking the time to appreciate that you have done the work to accomplish that step; at least a moment to acknowledge your successes big and small. Woo hoo!
What have you learned? Anytime a change is tackled some adjustment time is to be expected. It will feel awkward, maybe even a little forced until you get used to the new way of doing/being. You will learn what works for you at every new juncture and incorporate that moving forward. It’s ok to tweak the plan, refine it to make it work. And when it does, remember to celebrate that victory!
Is tomorrow really another day? We can absolutely learn from (our own) history, what can work, what may not. And just because something happened yesterday, really does not mean it will happen today, “good” or “bad.” Each day has a relatively equal shot for being good or bad. Yep, stuff happens, really bad stuff can happen on any given day and can have consequences on our daily lives. And it’s the regular days and taking it as it comes, doing the best we can every day to use our internal and external resources, to ask ourselves questions, be gentle with ourselves, learn from our experiences and celebrate every victory that make each day offer some new opportunities even among the to-do lists.
Persevere. A resolution can be made at any time of the year based on how you feel. Maybe it’s a ritual from a religion you were raised with but no longer practice. It could be a life changing event, a phase of the moon, a change of season, it could be simply that you have been doing the work, now you are ready and the change will feel right, maybe even easy. Let what you know about yourself, what you have learned and hold dear guide your resolve and feel free to make a New Year’s Resolution at the best time of year for you.