I want to use this very appropriate time in the year to talk about resolutions. I have noticed that the media surrounding this subject has changed over the last few years. As a society, we have consistently failed at keeping our New Year’s Resolutions, so the popular message has turned to “stop making them”. While I agree that resolutions put a lot of pressure on ourselves and I also agree that most people don’t follow thru, I believe this problem to be user error rather than the act of making a resolution.
What I mean is, we make resolutions quickly, without much thought or reflection, and usually as a reaction to something in our life that we are currently doing or not doing that is making us feel bad about ourselves. Instead of making “changes”, what if we thought about “adding” to our lives. Using the New Year as a chance to reflect on what we want in life, what are some things on our bucket list, and what we feel are our top priorities. Before making any promise of a resolution, make sure you have a clear plan of what it is you want to do with this life.
For example, I make a sort of “resolution” every year. There are certain things I have always wanted to add to my life, and using the New Year to set up a plan on how to get it into a busy schedule feels motivating and keeps me consistent year-over-year. Last year I added 3 things in, and in order of priority they were: 1) Learn Spanish, 2) Add Meditation in my routine, 3) Journal. I didn’t just make these resolutions and hope all would fall into place, I made a plan. Any addition we want to add to our lives will take a sacrifice of time and a solid commitment. It is important to know where that time will come from and the cost of the commitment.
For my top priority, I started to look at my options, between classes, tutors, and online courses. Knowing I would needs consistency and accountability in order to commit to learning Spanish, I opted for in-person classes. After a few months, the times were too hard to make, so I committed to one-on-one tutoring so that I could more easily work it into my schedule. I am still getting tutored once a week.
For my second 2 priorities, I had to play with what worked. Was morning or evening better? Should I do them together or separate? Should it be daily? I started with daily and then worked my way to a place where I felt I could have consistency (which turns out is 3x/week). All 3 of my resolutions are now just part of my life, they do not feel like a sacrifice of time or resources, it is just part of me.
I like resolutions and I like the New Year as a time to reflect and remind ourselves about what we want in this life. You can do it whenever you want – 4th of July, Summer Solstice, your Birthday – it doesn’t matter, just make sure you take the time to reassess. Without this time, we tend to get caught up in the day-to-day of our lives and never move onto the things we really want.
Here are a few suggestions on how to make productive additions to your life instead of resolutions that will never manifest.
- What is on your bucket list? Is there something on there you could start working towards or even complete this year? What will it cost you in time and money? Do you have those resources available to you or do you need to find them?
- When you think of what you want your life to look like, what do you see? Is there something you should add to your life to move closer to this vision? Do you need help and guidance, or focus and time, or all of the above? Where can you find what you need?
- Is there something you love to do, but have not had the opportunity to do it lately? How could you add this back into your life?
- Do you need support? What does that support look like and how could you move closer to finding it?
From these answers, start to make your roadmap. What is the most important? What can be accomplished easily with just a little effort? What are your first steps?
Now give yourself “loose” deadlines. You don’t want to leave everything open-ended or a whole year may go by with little progress. Take a look at your roadmap and give yourself achievable deadlines. Sometimes it is easier to give yourself mini-deadlines for all the first steps instead of one massive, end-goal deadline.
Now you have a plan for your additions. Focus on these additions rather than changes. Make sure you have a clear reason “why” these additions are important to you. The first thing my Spanish tutor asked me was “Why do you want to learn Spanish?”. It is important for everyone involved to know the motives.
At the close of 2019, I am no where near fluent in my Spanish, but I practice every week and could easily travel with my “Spanglish”. I will continue to learn and progress, not just with my Spanish, but with everything is this beautiful life. And this year, I am focusing on making things (already handmade a few Christmas presents) and mapping out the future of my business (already met with and hired a business coach).
What will you do with you 2020?