lifestyle

tips for setting (+ keeping!) a new year’s resolution

December 31, 2015

tips for keeping a new year's resolution

a resolution is a beautiful thing. it’s what happens when a choir’s dissonant fingernails-on-chalkboard notes suddenly step into the full, sustained, sunlit harmony. it’s when all the troublesome misunderstandings and confusions in the play get fully uncovered so all the characters can finally figure out who, exactly, they’re in love with. it’s when a slide under a microscope, or a fuzzy moon in the telescope, finally get brilliantly sharp after all that fiddling around with the focus knobs. a resolution is a solution, a proposal, a commitment.

and despite that, new year’s resolutions really don’t have to be that big of a deal.

see? i didn’t even capitalize it. there’s no rule that says you have to make a new year’s resolution, and certainly no reason why january 1 is any better day to start than july 29. but really, is making a decision to better yourself in some tiny way really that bad of a thing? yes, i get it, the pressure to make grand, impractical life-altering commitments isn’t really fun, but it really doesn’t have to be that way. i promise. in fact, why not just take that beginning-of-the-new-year momentum and make a clean start, resolutions and all?

this year, i propose a new way. a new kind of resolution. all we’re really talking about is a decision to take one baby step closer to being the best version of yourself possible. and there’s nothing wrong with that. so don’t be scared, or intimidated!

1. GET PERSONAL

make sure to spend some time thinking about you. really. what do you wish were different about the way you live your life? or maybe even just the way you react to life? don’t pick something because it sounds good, or because your best friend is doing it. it’s got to be something that you yourself are emotionally invested in for you, or it won’t stick.

2. DON’T MULTITASK

pick just one thing to commit to. rome wasn’t built in a day, and while it might seem admirable to stockpile up those wishes into a list of fresh-start resolutions, don’t. less is more. this is a sincere undertaking that deserves wholehearted effort. even if it seems like an easy change, better to give yourself some space to try out your new goal before you take on more challenges. if it’s easy to integrate, that’s great! you can pick a new one when your first resolution becomes habit.

3. MAKE IT PRACTICAL + ACHIEVABLE…

a resolution shouldn’t throw a monkey wrench in your whole life groove you’ve got going on. if “going to the gym more often” now means suddenly waking up two hours earlier five days a week and schlepping it all the way to the gym across town, that’s just not practical. yet. it’s not really achievable either, because unless you have a will of steel, you’re really setting yourself up for failure. why do that to yourself? this is a baby step, remember? pick something reasonable, (read: practical and achievable), to work into your schedule or lifestyle. if your true ambition seems to be a giant leap, don’t despair! you can still start now! break the end goal down into smaller pieces, and begin at the beginning. dying to make a gym a daily practice, but it’s been years since you’ve seen the inside of the locker room? start with getting yourself there once a week. when that gets easy, up it to twice a week. we’re looking for sustainable habits, not force-of-will battles that burn out by valentine’s day.

4. + SPECIFIC

congratulations! you’ve settled on one resolution that’s important to you and is reasonable for where you are financially, emotionally, physically, etc. now, how will you know when you’ve been consistently honoring your goal? “getting healthy” is great, but what does that mean? does that mean cutting out all the sugary coffee drinks during the work week, does it mean completely overhauling your fridge to only include non-processed foods, or does it mean sometimes picking a salad at lunch? who knows? no, honestly- how will you know unless you decide specifically what your real goal is? this is sometimes the hardest step, because it really means committing to a new habit. it also means that now that there are real expectations, there’s the real possibility that you might not meet your goal. and that’s okay. you can’t succeed if there is no clear and specific measurement. so instead of hiding behind the vague resolution to “get healthy,” make it a clear-cut resolution to meditate for ten minutes at least twice a week, or go on a walk every other day, or just to start going to your biannual teeth cleanings at the dentist. whatever. no judgment.

5. COMMIT

this part is important. you have to admit that you really want this for yourself, and that you are really going to put your best effort into this for yourself. sometimes we pretend we don’t really want things so that we won’t be so heartbroken when we fail to get them. but that’s not how this works. this is a quest for self-fulfillment, and that never ends. so, as long as you’re trying, you can never really fail. but you have to really want it, and know that you really deserve it. and that starts with a commitment. so write it down in a journal, on a sticky note by the bathroom mirror, or call up your mom and tell her your new plan. not only does this action make an official beginning for your new resolution, but it’ll also serve as a useful reminder and as a source of accountability.

6. WORK FROM A PLACE OF LOVE

your new resolution will take work, yes. sincere work. but even more essential than that is the mindset that you have going into this work. this effort is for you, and maybe for those around you as well. that means you have to work from a place of love. not just for others, but for yourself too. try your hardest, yes, but be gentle with yourself. you might not make your goal every week. depending on your ambition, you might not even make progress on your new resolution for months. but remember your reason for doing this work, and try to treat yourself with the same compassion and empathy you would treat your best friend if she were struggling. new habits are not easy to form. just keep coming back to that place of love and use that motivating energy to keep pushing through.

so what do you think? any thoughts on making a new year’s resolution this year? let us know in the comments below! wishing you all a wonderful, fulfilling, love-filled and prosperous 2016!

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