Have you chosen to set New Year’s resolutions? If you are at all like me, you may have a long history of New Year’s resolutions that never materialized. I have a stack of diaries in my basement, reflecting the hope that I would keep a diary. They all have a couple of days where I recorded events and impressions, followed by a volume of snowy white blank pages.
I stopped making New Year’s resolutions several years ago. I didn’t want to disappoint myself anymore. But I recently came across some research that says we tend to do better at making significant changes in our lives if we do it at the start of the New Year or some other major occasion (like the start of a new school year). And most of us have some things we would like to do differently or something we’ve been wanting to try, but just haven’t gotten around to. So what to do?
Instead of a New Year’s resolution, I’ve resolved to be gentler with my “change plan.” I’m going the “tweaking route.” Example: exercise. I envy those people who love to be active and manage to exercise almost every day. Me, I’m a natural ‘curl-up-on-the-couch-with-a-good-book’ kind of person. But I do feel better when I exercise and it lets me do other activities I enjoy, such as skiing on weekends, or traveling and walking all day absorbing the new environment. Five days of exercise during the week isn’t going to happen just now, but I did sign up for a six-week Pilates class and it’s a lot of fun, even if it’s a challenge getting there on time.
What are some things you’d like to try? Maybe you’ve wanted to read more but never get around to it or learn about something you’ve always been curious about. Wanting to improve your Spanish? Eat healthier? Quit smoking? Stay in touch with friends?
- Be realistic. Try something for a shorter, defined period of time so it won’t seem as daunting. If you enjoy it, you can set another defined period of time to do more. If you don’t, at least you had one month where you experienced something positive that you’ve wanted to do and you can feel good about yourself.
- Build in structure. Take a class. Get a friend to do the activity with you. Schedule it in your calendar.
- Tell others what you are doing. If you share your intentions with your family or friends, you are more likely to follow through on it, because you know they will be asking you how it is going!
- Keep moving forward! There are plenty of things to try, and lots of different ways to achieve goals. After you’ve completed one brief goal, try another, or continue the first one, perhaps with some changes built into it.
So think about what you want to try. You’ve had some time to give yourself a break after the hectic pace of the holidays. Now you can get back into your routine, but with a little change to enrich yourself. This can be your gift to yourself. Enjoy!