As the new year approaches, people are starting to prepare for the annual tradition: let’s make a new year’s resolution! Personally, I do something a little different for resolutions but I’ll get to that later. Most people have an idea of what they would like to change or do to better themselves. It’s something that they plan to start on January 1st and try to continue throughout the year – or until they meet their goal. Some people decide that they want to quit smoking, some want to lose weight, and others are determined to spend more time with their family. Whatever you choose to shoot for during the new year, the biggest challenge is to actually follow through on it. Did you know that, according to a study by professor John Norcoss from the University of Scranton and colleagues, almost 60% of people abandon their resolution within six months? It’s always apparent to me that gym memberships skyrocket in the month of January but attendance is down by March. People sign up for courses that they quickly drop. Trust me, I know; I barely made it to April. Folks have this idea of what they want to do but eventually give up. Why is this? Well, there’s a few reasons…
First, people tend to set unattainable goals. “I’m going to travel the world this year.” Okay, that’s awesome. It’s extremely ambitious, anyway. But is it plausible for you? For some, it might be feasible. However, if you’re trying to achieve this while working 40+ hours a week and taking care of a four-person household, it would probably be extremely difficult. Perhaps an easier goal may be to see a new city once a month. You’ll be traveling, making memories, and experiencing plenty of excitement. You’ll also be avoiding disappointment if you’re simply unable to travel the world in one year. Another problem is not making a plan. Sure, learning a new language can be a great experience. But how can you get it done? Nothing gets done through wishful thinking, so figure out how you can do it! This can be signing up for classes or befriending a native speaker. Finally, one of the biggest deterrents is creating a resolution for someone else. So you want to quit smoking? Fantastic! … but why? If you want to quit smoking so that other people will shut up about it, your reasoning will never be good enough for you to stay on top of it. If your heart isn’t in it, you will slack off. Set your sights on something that you want, choose something reasonable that won’t set you up for failure, and make a plan.
I’m terrible at sticking to a year-long goal. I get sidetracked and I eventually stop caring about it. My resolutions are slightly different: I start the year by making a goal for each month… not for the entire year. They are usually pretty simple, but they are things that I feel would enrich my life or help me achieve some of my long term goals. Plus, it’s easier to start some fabulous habits this way. Once I get in the groove of something easy for a month, I find it easier to continue while adding my new goal for the following month. Feel free to steal this idea if it works for you. Here’s my 2017 resolutions:
January: work 40 hours a week – no more, no less!
February: meditate for 30 minutes a day
March: work out twice a week
April: read daily – anything! a book, newspaper, a random magazine article
May: create weekly meal plans …since trying to figure out what to eat while I’m starving is a horrible idea
June: journal once a week
July: prepare for my daughter to start kindergarten (register for school, buy supplies, stock up on wine for me…)
August: drink 16 oz of water a day
September: sleep 7 hours a night – at least!
October: do a random act of kindness daily
November: actively do my personal poetry blog
December: find a pen pal – because why not?
So what are you going to work toward?
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This post was written by Amber L. Burden