Fed up with new years resolutions that don't last past February? Learn my strategy for how to set a new years non-resolution that will actually change your life by 2017!
This Friday, 127.6 million or so Americans will make a New Years Resolution. Over the course of the year (who are we kidding, over the course of January), 117.4 million of those resolutions will fail. Failure will lead to guilt. Guilt will lead to running shoes collecting dust and empty pints of Ben and Jerry's and general feelings of crappiness.
Then next year, we'll do it all over again.
Most people know New Years resolutions don't last, usually from experience. But it's one thing to know resolutions don't last, and another thing to make it through the hype of the season without setting one.
I get it. There's something magical about a new year. It's exciting to think of starting with a clean slate. Trust me, I've set my fair share of New Years resolutions that have fallen by the wayside.
Most resolutions are destined for failure. This post I wrote a couple years ago on seven types of resolutions that always fail will probably sound familiar to you. I promise, your failed resolutions have absolutely nothing to do with you, your abilities or your willpower and everything to do with the fact that resolutions aren't designed to last past January. They're either focused on a result rather than an action ("I will lose 30 lbs in 2016!") or if it's focused on an action, it's not exactly a realistic action ("I will cut out all sugar from my diet!").
This does't mean there isn't a way to dramatically transform your life by 2017. Try setting a new years non-resolution! Some day I'll think up a catchier name ;) A few years ago, I created a method for creating a sense of starting anew while making sustainable changes that will actually last past January 17th. I hope you'll ditch the resolution and give this a try instead!
Find a quiet place. Light some candles or do whatever you need to make it a calming, meditative space. Get comfortable. Spend 15 minutes or so thinking about what you want out of this new year. Where do you see yourself a year from now? If you could do, have or be anything in 365 days, what would it be? Think big!
Now, pull out a journal, your computer or even a few loose pieces of paper. Write down what you came up with. Don't feel the need to use correct grammar or even complete sentences. This is for you and you alone, so as long as it makes sense to you, that's what matters. Spend as much time on this as you like, but at least write for 15 minutes. I aim for about 45. Hey, you're planning out the next 365 days of your life - you can at least set aside a good hour!
Read over what you wrote. Do you notice any reoccurring themes? See if you can summarize your hopes and desires into one mantra, or even one word. No big deal if you can't, it just helps to have something memorable you can repeat in your head when times inevitably get tough. Last year, my word was 'joy' and my mantra was 'live joy, give joy.'
Pull out another sheet of paper or another page in your journal. Set a timer for 15 minutes, and write down as many specific actions as you can to make your dreams a reality. Remember, write down things you can DO, not the results you hope to attain.
Look back over the list. Pick out one action item that you feel pretty confident in your ability to achieve and you think will bring measurable results. Circle it. Now, turn that action into a SMART goal.
S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Achievable
R = Realistic
T = Time specific
So, something along the lines of "I will practice yoga for 30 minutes 3 times a week" rather than "I'm going to practice yoga tons!"
Congrats! You created your January goal! They say it takes 21 days to create a habit, so using one month to focus on this specific habit gives you some wiggle room to struggle, yet solidify your new habit. If needed, break your goal down into weekly steps, but whatever you do, make sure you sent plenty of reminders and accountability.
Come February, look back and your goal and see how you did. Did you achieve it or not? Since your goal is specific and measurable, that should be easy to answer. If you struggled and didn't achieve your January goal, that's okay. Really. Try to figure out why, troubleshoot, and tackle it again in February, or put it back on the list for later.
If you were successful and you're ready to move on to a new goal, find another from your list and go back to step 5.
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I should note that I'm a huge fan of doing this somewhere around January 4th. The holiday season is crazy! Right now I'm trying to catch up on work from Christmas, plan the New Years/Clemson party we're hosting and deal with the fact that there is a giant hole in our house where the wall used to be and hope that nobody notices said hole at the party (unlikely). I know I'm not alone in being exhausted. Give your body some time to recalibrate so you can do this with a fresh mind.
Now, a few tools to help with your non-resolution. This year I discovered the Passion Planner day planner and I am more than slightly obsessed. It was on back order so it just arrived on Monday. It felt like Christmas all over again! I was checking the mail every day for it's arrival! Besides being a generally awesome planner, with space for separate work and personal to-do lists, it's designed to help you plan and execute your own personal passion plan. There's space for you to write your daily and weekly focus, weekly challenges, and space to write and reflect on each month. It was basically made for keeping track of your non-resolution! And there's motivational quotes, my favorite :) If you pick one up, would love it if you could include my personal email as the referral (RachaelWallace4@gmail.com) - I get a free one if more than three people order and I'll definitely want another next year!
Getting more exercise is always a popular new years resolution. Unfortunately, exercise sucks...or at least it does when you're doing a workout you don't enjoy. That's why I love Booya Fitness, which has hundreds of different types of boutique workout videos for less than $10 a month (rather than $30 a class!). It's a great way to try new workouts to find out what you love, or always do something different so you never get bored! In collaboration with Booya, I curated a Mind & Body 4 week plan that includes tons of different and FUN workouts, and daily eating advice with an emphasis on mindful eating. It's a steal at $4.99! (p.s. that's an affiliate link). If you're thinking about signing up, be sure to do so before January 10th when they'll be rolling out a contest where you'll have the chance to win tons of awesome fitness prizes!
If your goal for 2016 is to become a more mindful/intuitive eater, I hope you'll check out my guide, 20 Days of Joyful Eating. It contains 20 exercises that will help you rebuild a healthy relationship with food, plus room for journaling. You could even pick out 12 of them to use as your monthly goals next year!
Have you ever set a new years resolution? Did you achieve it, or did you struggle? What do you think went wrong?