It’s that time of year again…time to declare great changes to begin on Jan. 1 only to abandon them by mid-February (or earlier).
So why bother, right?
There is actually a great reason to continue making resolutions, and more importantly a number of things you can do to give your resolutions a decent chance of lasting until spring – or beyond!
There is something undeniable about the end of the year having a certain momentum that propels us into the coming year. The glitter and glitz of the holidays is suddenly behind us and the prospect of a calm January with it’s clean, white, unblemished calendar pages seems open to unlimited possibilities.
That momentum is what allows us to leap into the new year and make great strides toward our goals right off the bat.
The problem is that most of us have unrealistic expectations about our resolutions – about this momentum lasting until we achieve our goal, about how easy it will be to achieve our goals, and about how we will deal with setbacks.
Let’s say you decide to get into better shape for the new year – it’s one of the top 3 resolutions. You run out and join a gym the first week of January and for a few weeks you work out 3 days a week and feel great. But, inevitably you wake up one morning and you are just too tired to work out. For the extra hour you get to sleep that morning you feel wonderful, but as the day goes by you start feeling bad about missing that workout. Your were succeeding, and now you believe you have failed. Suddenly, it doesn’t seem as exciting to be making this healthy change and you start missing more workouts, until finally you’ve stopped going to the gym completely and just feel guilty all the time because you’re paying for a gym membership that you aren’t using.
Sound familiar? (Believe me, I’ve lived it!)
But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you start the new year with a goal, knowing that momentum will allow you to have great success at the beginning, but that it won’t last forever, you can prepare for that moment when you lose your motivation.
The key to moving forward and achieving a goal is small steps. Big leaps are great for the short term, but taking small steps when the initial momentum wears off is what helps us show up to do the things we want to do and make continuous small improvements.
We know we are going to lose our initial momentum, so what small steps can we plan to take when that happens? When you are no longer motivated to go the gym for a 45 minute workout, how about going for only 15 minutes? Chances are once you are there you will end up staying longer than that, but if you don’t and you only workout for 15 minutes, you have still succeeded.
What if 15 minutes still feels like it’s too much, too difficult? How about dancing for 1 minute during the commercials while watching TV?
And this concept can be applied to any change you are trying to make.
If you know what your resolution is, ask yourself today, “What small steps toward my goal will I take when my initial motivation wears off?”
Another issue in the scenario I gave you is the way we beat ourselves up when we take that first misstep. The feelings of failure and guilt are not at all helpful when we are already struggling to make a change in our lives. We need to go into these resolutions reminding ourselves we aren’t perfect, that we will likely make mistakes, and when that happens, acknowledge it without letting it derail us.
If you experience a setback, what can you say to yourself that is kind and gentle, and will inspire you, instead of making you feel guilty?
And finally, have some fun with it! Who says making changes in your life has to be a serious business? Use your imagination and find a way to make what seems like work into a game. Pretend you are on a great adventure!
Here are some ideas for making some of the most popular resolutions more fun:
- Losing Weight
Tracking food for a diet plan? Draw the food you eat each day instead of just listing it and create an illustrated food journal
- Getting Fit
Hate going to the gym because it’s cold and metal and loud? Pretend you are visiting an alien planet and observe the local life-forms in their vast, clanging, metal forests
- Getting Organized
Sounds boring? Dub your organizing sessions “Space Clearing Extravaganzas” and dress festively to celebrate them (I always find a tiara or crown helps make any boring task more fun)
- Being More Productive
Overwhelmed by how much you need to do? Instead of listing out a giant, daunting to do list, pick 3 things each day and doodle what you have to do – make a DoodleToDo list!
- Saving Money
Bummed out by not buying all the things you want anymore? Pretend you’re an Ebenezer Scrooge-like miser and count your change in big stacks while cackling and grumbling (go ahead – Christmas is over – you know you want to). Bonus points for wearing a top-hat and cravat.
Anyway, hopefully you get the point. I’m sure you can come up with even more entertaining ideas!
So go ahead, leap into the new year with the best intentions, and run until you can’t run anymore. But, bring along some extra shoes – when you stop running you can put on your comfortable walking shoes for those small steps that will get you to your goal. And, of course, don’t forget your dancing shoes – they’ll make your journey ever so much more fun and joyful.