New Year’s Resolutions that just might work for you…
A new calendar year is upon us! Therefore, we feel compelled to make some changes in our lives. Some people try making huge, life-changing New Year’s Resolutions. There is nothing particularly wrong with this, but as the stereotype goes, few people actually keep them. Here is my theory on that- It is hard to make major, lasting changes when nothing else in your life is really changing. Change helps facilitate other change! For most of us, January 1st is not actually bringing about a new season of our lives. That very same week, we are returning to our same jobs, school years, or routines. In my opinion, the best time to incorporate changes and new habits is when your life is actually changing. For example- in August, when the new school year starts for you or your kids, or when your fiscal year starts over in your line of work (June 1st for me), or maybe after moving, or during some other time of transition.
However, a new year is here, and we want to do something. Maybe we do not want to wait until our seasons actually change before we make some changes! So today I bring you some easy and doable changes or “Mini New Year’s Resolutions” to incorporate into your 2017. They are not so much about re-structuring your entire lifestyle, but rather, maximizing the life you already have!
1- Set a few goals that are practical, attainable, and worth maintaining your entire life, not just a year. For example, last year when 2016 began, I knew I was not going to maintain some huge resolution. But certainly there was something small I could do! So I decided to do a better job of gift-giving. I needed to do a better job at this and wanted to make it a life-long habit anyway. So I resolved to buy gifts for weddings, birthdays, and Christmas well in advance. I put these occasions on my calendar and set up reminders ahead of time to alert me to buy gifts. (I actually bought wedding gifts before weddings instead of waiting to send something within the next year, which is appropriate according to etiquette books, but a sure way for me to put it off and forget in reality.) Here is another example: Many years ago, I resolved to not gossip or engage in it. Obviously, I am not perfect, and I messed up sometimes. The important thing is to own you mistakes, get back up, and let your new practice become something that is integrated deep within you so that you carry it beyond the next 365 days. Resolve to do that simple thing you know you need to do better or more fully, and go for it!
2- Don’t be afraid to let go of those things which are not working for you. Maybe you’ve spent some ample time taking instrument lessons, going vegetarian, attempting to write a blog, or trying to be an expert at a sport, language, or intellectual topic. And after giving it a serious go, you’ve realized that you hate it, or it just isn’t for you. You’ve acknowledged that this thing is actually stealing from your time, relationships, energy, or bank account with little-to-no return. You do not want to quit because you are afraid that people will judge you for “giving up” or “throwing in the towel”. Friend, this is not a good enough reason to keep doing something that is robbing you of bigger and better pursuits and dreams. Resolve to not allow okay things to keep you from great things in 2017!
3- Incorporate something enjoyable into mundane tasks. We all have those little mundane tasks we hate doing! These may include checking email, washing dishes, doing laundry, commuting for work, or running errands. Like it or not, these things will occupy good portions of time in 2017, so let’s make these tasks at least- tolerable, and at most- enjoyable! This year, try pairing pleasurable things with those not-so-pleasurable things we have to do. Here are some examples:
- Tell yourself you can only light your favorite scented candle once sitting down to check emails.
- Make a fun playlist with your favorite 90s hits or classical tunes, which you only play while washing dishes or folding laundry.
- Turn grocery trips into “dates” or “outings” with a significant other or a friend. After all, we all have something we need to buy at the supermarket on almost any given day.
- Turn your long commute into a time when you listen to your favorite authors and series on audio. Or spend this time calling long-distance family and friends. Think about it- You are now maintaining relationships you may have otherwise lost, during a time you may have otherwise wasted!
Resolve to do what you need to do to enjoy more moments of your life instead of dreading them.
4- Communicate your expectations, plans, and desires clearly to others. Be gracious toward others, and give them the benefit of the doubt. The fact is that most people are not intending to act unsupportive toward your dreams and wishes. They are not trying to annoy the heck out of you or ruin your day. They may actually think that they are doing right by you, especially if you have not told them otherwise. Most people are much more agreeable than you may think. Most people would probably comply with your simple requests or support your wishes if they knew what you wanted them to do. For example, sometimes I need alone time, so it is important for me, when necessary, to actually articulate to family or friends, “Hey, I need to take some personal time tomorrow. Nothing against you all; I just need some time by myself. I will meet back up with you later at such-n-such time…” That way, they don’t feel ignored or rejected, and I don’t feel like they are messing up my much-needed time to rest, write, or run errands.
Maybe your spouse, co-worker, roommate, or friend is doing something that really bothers you. Instead of assigning a character flaw to them like selfishness, carelessness, or laziness, just find a calm and gracious way to ask them to do that thing differently or not at all. You might just be surprised to discover that most people are actually well-meaning, seeking to please, and more cooperative than you may realize! If you remain silent and harbor contempt toward the annoying or offensive habits of others, then they are not the ones ruining your time in 2017, you are. Resolve to not expect others to read your mind; rather, graciously make your thoughts and desires known.
5- Be more compassionate and polite to yourself! I can be so hard on myself! It’s like this- If another person made that common mistake or committed that life blooper, I would be so gracious, assuring them that this could happen to anyone and that they shouldn’t feel bad at all! However, the second I commit that very same mindless mistake, I completely beat myself up and may even assign an entire character flaw to myself! For example, many of my life bloopers involve forgetting things. I forget my phone charger. I forget to pack something for a trip. I buy everything at the store, but forget to buy that one main thing I went in for! I start telling myself how stupid, how brainless, and how careless I am! If I did that to someone else, you (and I) would be absolutely appalled and would probably call me an insensitive, mean-spirited jerk! So here is a small 2017 New Year’s resolution for you and for me: Let’s resolve to quit being jerks… to ourselves!
And there you have it- some easy, doable changes you can make in 2017! These little resolutions do not require you to completely rearrange your entire life. They simply help you to get the most out of this year and to maximize the time you are already given and the life you are already living. Happy New Year!