Do you hate making resolutions?
Do they seem like a colossal waste of time because you figure you will probably just give up on them after a few days or weeks? Well, you’re not alone, and you’re probably right…that is, if you only make them impulsively after a few drinks on New Year’s Eve!
On the premise that it is easier to stick to a new habit when you can make it fun, here are some ideas for making resolutions you can stick to:
1. Call it something else
Call it goal setting…affirmations…planning…whatever you like. But don’t make the mistake of thinking your life is going to change for the better without some effort on your part. What’s working? What isn’t? What would you most like to change? Why? What steps will you take? When?
Keep in mind: If you keep on doin’ what you’re doin’, you’re gonna keep on gettin’ what you’ve got.
Learn to live your life by design, not by default!
And remember: “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
I still don’t hate the word resolution, though. All it means is this: A firm decision to do or not do something. Is your reluctance just a rebellious feeling that you don’t wanna do something you know you ought to do? Maybe it will help if you choose a new behavior, rather than to resolve or decide to change an old one.
2. Try choosing a focus word, or theme for the year instead
I jumped onto the focus word bandwagon last year. I find that a focus word, or theme for the year, helps to shape my thoughts and actions in a way that does not require sticking to a specific habit that can easily be abandoned. The word can apply to one’s personal life, work, or both, and keeping it in mind can lead to discoveries and new habits that were not foreseen on January 1st.
3. Pick something fun
As my brilliant colleague Seana Turner says, “A resolution doesn’t have to be something you are feeling guilty about.” Try thinking of something fun or positive that you’ve been wanting to do, but never allow yourself the time. Give yourself permission to…take yourself to the movies more often? Schedule more “me time”? Take a class? Volunteer? What about resolving to reach out in some way or do a good deed each day? (Extra points for anonymity.)
4. Set S.M.A.R.T Goals
Read my blog post about this to learn how to set goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Specific. Essentially, your S.M.A.R.T. goal doubles as your plan for reaching it!
5. Pick another time
The New Year is a traditional time to reflect, set goals, and make plans. But it can also be a crazy-busy time of year! There’s really no wrong time to do this. Maybe your birthday makes more sense to you. Or the first day of your favorite season. Back-to-school? Quarterly? Monthly?
I like to reflect on my life as I am returning home from a vacation. I’m usually as excited to come home as I was to leave, and I figure if I’m not there must be something about my life that needs fixing.
6. Select a smaller goal
Give yourself permission to start small. Instead of saying, “I’ll go to the gym and exercise for an hour every day,” start with, “I’ll go for a 10 minute walk three days a week.” You can always set a new goal later. It’s way more fun to reach a small goal and then set a new, more ambitious one, than it is to feel like a loser just because your goal wasn’t very S.M.A.R.T. to begin with. Or, am I the only one who feels that progress equals happiness?
7. Try something different
- Set goals with a friend and keep each other accountable.
- Make a vision board.
- Reward yourself, not for reaching your ultimate goal, but for working towards your goal.
- Keep a gratitude box (or jar).
- Find a new-habit app, such as Better (based on Gretchen Rubin’s book Better than Before) for your smartphone.
- Think of your future self as a dear friend.
- Mark your calendar with an X for each day you meet your new goal, and don’t break the chain.
- Keep yourself on track for some of the things you want to do daily and weekly by using a kids’ magnetic chore chart. Stars, balloons, and smiley faces can be motivational for grownups too!
What are your ideas for making resolutions fun again?
Please share them in the comments!
Copyright 2011-2018 by Hazel Thornton, Organized for Life.
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I also find that after a vacation or other break is a great time to start making changes. So for me, it’s usually not January 1, but more likely December 26 or 27. I’ve always found September to be a good time as well.
September = Back to School. And I always get excited about that even since I’m no longer in school!
I love all the suggestions you offered as resolution “workarounds.” It’s funny how a simple word change, perspective shift, or out-of-box idea can open the door and allow us to charge ahead. The cartoon is awesome too. I’ve taken different approaches over the years. And truthfully, they all work. I think the key is committing to the choice. The one I’m working with this year is picking an “intention” for the year. This intention comes in the form of a question. Mine is, “What do I want to say ‘yes’ to this year?” My further clarifier is that I’ll say yes to interesting opportunities or openings without deliberation and doubt.
Thanks, Linda. I wish I knew who drew the cartoon. It’s been used a million times on the internet, but I could not find a single credit. “Intention” is as good a word for it as anything else, and I agree we just need to commit. Have you read Shonda Rhimes’ book “Year of Yes”? If not, I think you’d enjoy it.
As my family sat around discussion resolutions on New Year’s Eve, my sister mentioned that she kept thinking of all these things she wanted to do at work. I suggested she try thinking of something fun or positive that she’s been wanting to do, but never allowing herself the time to do. A resolution doesn’t have to be something you are feeling guilty about. Love all of these tips!
That’s brilliant, Seana! That’s what I need to do.
Oh my gosh, Seana. I’ve been circling this point without actually making it! I will add it immediately.