Less than 10% of Americans stick to the New Year's Resolutions they set for themselves. Does this surprise you? And why is this so? My theory is that most of our resolutions are too complicated, immeasurable, and difficult. Take, for instance, the year I decided to limit myself to two warm, half-caf, low-fat beverages per day and one treat beverage per week...I found this resolution in a journal from 5 years ago and honestly can't tell you what I was thinking when I wrote that out nor if I accomplished it. Complicated!
But other than a few resolutions like that one from my past, my personality type generally thrives on creating and sticking to goals. I thought I'd share with you today what my New Year's Resolutions were last year and how I accomplished them (or, sometimes, didn't). I'm doing something similar this year, but haven't yet nailed down the details. If this post is helpful to you, let me know in the comments and I can turn in into a series, allowing you guys to follow me through my 2016 resolutions.
In 2015, I had a few things I wanted to make time for. Two of them for sure were cooking and reading as therapeutic practices. But there were so many others that I couldn't quite decide how to compile them into one resolution. So, I decided I was going to focus on one aspect of self-discipline per month as well as making a simple and intentional plan for cooking and reading each month. On the first of the month, I would chose a word and write a few sentences in my journal about how I'd like to grow in that area, as well as a few sentences on what recipe I'd like to try and what book I was currently reading through. This was such a helpful way to tackle the many goals running through my mind one-by-one!
How did it go, you may be wondering? Well, not perfectly, but rather efficiently at the same time. Some months, I wrote up my word late or didn't think of one at all (like in August). But I consistently made time for checking in at the end of each month to talk with myself about how I did or didn't grow in the particular area of self-discipline. Here's a snapshot of one of those months:
My other words last year were: health, prayer, Sabbath, beauty, Summer, budget, work, faith, gratitude, and Advent.
So with this reflection in mind, my top three guidelines are as follows...New Year's Resolutions (and all goals, for that matter) need to be:
1. My goals were simple. In addition to trying out a new recipe and spending time reading each month (things I love to do anyway, but was just trying to make a more regular part of my life), I focused on one word every month. It was not hard to remember what I was working on!
2. My goals were measurable. At the end of the month, I knew whether or not I had read the book I wanted to read (just by looking at the location of the bookmark!), tested the recipe (again, duh), and grown in the particular area of self-discipline because I was really clear about what my intentions were at the beginning of the month.
3. My goals were doable. For example, in January, when my word was "health", I didn't challenge myself to workout every single day, but rather 5 times per week. I got into this routine very quickly because having 2 days off ever week felt like a luxury!
So if you haven't nailed down a New Year's Resolution yet this year, I challenge you to do so. I understand that my method, while simple enough for someone as detail-oriented as I am to follow, may be a little complicated. Don't do it that way, then! Maybe you will choose one word for the year and set a reminder at the beginning and end of each month to check in and ask yourself how you're doing with it. Maybe you'll simply work out one goal at a time without a timeline until you feel ready to move onto the next goal. Get clear about what goals have and haven't worked for you in the past and replicate the method you employed for the successful ones. Simply having a goal you're working toward is an important aspect of holistic health, whether or not it's a specific "health" goal.
Happy New Year, friends. Today is a new chance to honor the vessel you were given...let me hear in the comments below your plans for making 2016 count. Just getting it out there, even anonymously, will help you to feel like what you intend to do is meaningful. Because it is!