How to write NY Resolutions that work.
It’s that time of the year when we start to look back on the past 300+ days, and some of us realise that another year has gone, but we are practically at the same point where we were on the 1st of January.
Did you wish to start caring for yourself, change career, get healthier, fitter, learn a new language or maybe spend more time with your family and loved ones? But it all falls like a house of cards after a month or two.
Congratulations if you’ve managed to stick to your plans until summer. And my biggest respect goes to those who made their resolutions come true and managed to change their lives for the better.
I’m writing my NY resolutions probably for the last twenty years. Trust me, the number of frustrations and disappointments is very close to twenty. I used to write my NY resolutions as a goal or dream list. I was hoping that putting it all out there would make me finally change my life just in a year and cheer for my successful and happy self on the next NY night. On the contrary, I would realise that most things have to move for the following year every December. Some of them would have to be dropped altogether so that I wouldn’t indulge in the sense of guilt.
With years of life experience, more understanding of myself and how psychology works, I’ve moved from a ‘bucket list version’ to a concise list, with only up to three critical goals for the whole year. I’ve started to use fancy tools from coaching and NLP to make sure that my goals are SMART and I consider how balanced my life is. I would even look at where I want to be in five or ten years from now. It worked a bit better, but I would still drop out before summer.
A few years ago, I found the best way to set my NY resolution, remove my guilt and frustration, and finally celebrate my achievements when the clock counts twelve.
Here is what I do to guarantee that I make it through the year.
First of all, I dedicate some time for reflection on how I am feeling now. I’m not a big fan of writing and use it only occasionally when my thoughts are getting too messy. Also I don’t go into assessment and deep reflections of what I did and didn’t in the last 365 days.
So, most of the time, I have a cup of tea, scratch that out, a glass of wine and music that sets me in the right mood. I ask myself If I am happy today, right now. After that, I decided what would happiness mean to me next year. It gives me direction for my focus. I like to choose the word or feeling that would describe my coming year. It might be happiness, success, freedom, love, excitement, feeling proud, being known, career, health, family, change, fun… you name it. You might come up with a few words, but I would insist on choosing only one.Having trouble to choose - make a list and priorities your chosen words. Not sure if you've got the right one? Put your notes away for a day or week and do it again without looking into your old list.
Once I choose my word of the year, I think about what is behind it. Then, I go more into details and imagine how would I know that I have reached what I want. To make it easier:
Try to imagine different situations that make you feel the way you want in the coming year.
Go through the seasons, see yourself in other places, with different people.
Picture yourself writing your NY resolution for the year after the next one.
Make notes of what you are doing and who is around you.
These are your hints on achieving all you want in the next year.
Make sure you keep your chosen word in front of you through the year, so you can remind yourself where you want to be. I’m not the most organised person; even if I write everything nicely initially, I will stop checking my notes in a few weeks. So, my main trick is to keep the Word visible. Set it as a screensaver picture or add little sticky notes in random books and notebooks.
Another great way is to write emails to future self. No one knows us better than we are. We know how we will cheat and lie to ourselves. The great news is that you can predict when you will slip over and create a little helper for yourself. So, make sure you receive a reminder when you most need it.
Spend some time to think what would work best for you as a reminder to stick to your feeling. Be honest with yourself. It should be something that you can quickly and easy to use.
Less is more. By focusing on how you want to feel or how you want this year to be called, you put all your attention and brainpower towards achieving it.
What makes us overwhelmed and drop our NY resolutions – is ‘to-do' lists. Being consistent in doing what we most likely don’t like is daunting, often overwhelming, and over-optimistic. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how motivated we are at the beginning of the year; if we focus only on what to do, we will find excuses to stop doing it.
But if we focus on the most important feeling of who we want to become and what we want to feel actions would become a result. Even if you skip a few runs, you will still be fitter than 365 days before.
Looking forward to meeting happier and healthier versions of you.