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Making New Year’s Resolutions? Here’s How to Set Yourself up for Success

New Year's Resolutions

New Year, New You!
Gym memberships galore!
Quick-fix weight loss!
Make this year the year you get your life together!

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Many of us now roll our eyes at the idea of New Year’s resolutions and claim we’re far more enlightened than to stoop to making unrealistic pledges about overhauling our lives. But if we look deep down, many of us (myself included!) still have some deep longing to make this year the one where we start to do things a bit different than before.

Guess what? That’s a good thing! It means you recognize that the way you’ve been doing things hasn’t been working for you. Maybe you’ve slid into complacency about your health, your work, your important relationships, the things you say yes to. And New Years is a wonderful time to reflect, take stock, and decide what things you want to shed in the coming year (and I don’t mean pounds!).

So if you’re going to proclaim a resolution for 2019, make it entirely doable. Set yourself up for success and resolve to make one small shift in your life. Choose something realistic and NOT necessarily something with a quantifiable outcome. Yes, I know that goes against the whole idea of setting measurable goals for yourself, but hear me out.

If I decide that I’m going to lose 20 pounds, I’m pretty much guaranteed to fail. I’ve probably already told myself in my head that it’s not even possible, and when I don’t see any progress by January 3rd, I’m going to throw in the towel and call myself a failure.

Or maybe I want to read one new book a week. What about the weeks that end up being a complete write-off? You know the ones - everyone is sick, I forgot to plan meals and we’re all just eating cereal for dinner. Then there’s a birthday party and swimming lessons and, oh yeah, I said I’d go out with the girls on Friday. Then I stress about being behind on my goal, feel like I need to catch up and then it becomes just another thing that I’m behind on.

So no, don’t make your resolution quantifiable. Make it enjoyable. Make it totally unattached to an outcome. Make it about the practice of doing something slightly different in your life. Then, when you do your annual reflection on your year/recovering from holiday food coma, you’ll be able to see the things that shifted in your life.

So now you’re probably wondering, “How on earth do I make a resolution that isn’t about an outcome?” Here’s some ideas:

Resolve to move your body a bit more than you are now
Set an intention to get up from your desk or couch a couple times a week and just move your body in whatever way feels good to you.

Hydrate more
Replace one cup of coffee a day with water. Take a bottle of water on the road with you while you’re running errands.

Practice the present moment
Put down your phone once in a while. Pause in the midst of the daily-life chaos and just observe what’s going on. Notice the clouds. Drive with the radio turned off. Pay attention to your breath every now and again.

Be kinder to yourself
Notice when you’re beating yourself up internally, and tell that nasty inner bully to simmer down. Give yourself a little grace, knowing that you’re only human and we ALL mess up from time to time. Remind yourself that you’re still a work in progress until the very end and that you’re still learning how to do life.

Laugh more
Smile to yourself. Laugh with your kids. Laugh with your spouse! Notice the humour in daily life and allow yourself to feel lighthearted some of the time.

Invest in your relationship
Do a weekly check-in with your partner about how things are going. Have sex. Put down your phones after the kids are in bed. Start marriage counselling, even if things “aren't’ that bad”, there’s always things to improve upon.

Invest in yourself
Take care of your physical needs: go to bed early sometimes, make that dentist appointment, schedule your pap if it’s overdue…
Take a class or learn a new skill
Reflect on what’s going well at work and what you want to change
Go to therapy, even if it’s just to get to know yourself a little better

There are so many other things to be added to this list - share your ideas in the comments section at the end

How will I know if I’m doing it right?

I’ll let you in on a secret: when you’re not attached to an outcome, there is no doing it wrong! Even if only once you do ONE of these things, you will be further ahead than you are today.

Get some accountability. I have my people who I ask to check up on me in certain areas of my life and being the natural people-pleaser that I am, I want them to be proud of me! And these are not people who will let me make BS excuses.

So remember, the key to New Year’s Resolution success is this: committed, imperfect action, not outcomes.

Need some help with imperfect action? Get in touch today to see if therapy with me is the right fit for you.