On New Year’s Resolutions

If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It

It’s the end of the year, and many of us are looking forward to 2013 with a hopeful glint in our eyes, thinking to ourselves, “How can we better ourselves?  What ways can we improve ourselves and the world around us?”

While New Years’ Resolutions are wonderful things to make, I think many of us would do well to take stock of where we are before we get the ball rolling on where we need to go. The first, and most important thing, in my mind is this: don’t forget about what’s already good in your life, and take care to continue the actions, thoughts, and attitudes that have gotten you this far.

Set Achievable Goals

One of the great things about the beginning of a year is that gives you a fresh start, so you don’t have to look back at what you have or haven’t already done.  When you begin looking at what you want to do, you can create goals that you know are within your grasp.

Many times people will unconsciously set themselves up for failure with their New Year’s Resolutions by not being specific enough — they will say things like, “This year, I’m going to lose weight and be fit.” rather than saying “This year, I’m going to lose x pounds by exercising y days per week and sticking to z diet.”

By creating achievable goals that have specific action plans and dates associated with them, you set yourself up for success rather than disappointment and for future happiness.

Don’t Use Resolutions As An Excuse For Self-Deprecation

I see friends do this to themselves again and again. Every year, folks commit to losing “all their extra weight” or they start badmouthing themselves in some other area of their lives – like saying how they need to get a new job so they earn more money, or how they’re “finally going to start using that gym membership.”  Inside of each of these statements is a negative statement — a harsh “put-down” about how the person feels about themselves.

Resolve to lift yourself up with positive feelings.  Change can often be a hard thing to do, and the only way that you’re going to stick with it and grow as a person is if you’re consistently willing to be your own cheerleader.  Even if the change is something as simple as resolving to not leave your wet towel on the floor of the bathroom after your morning shower, it’s going to take time and effort to make a difference in your living pattern. Creating a chart where you reward yourself with a gold star sticker -or- using the good fabric softener after a week of good behavior might be a good way to give yourself the pat on the back that you deserve for modifying your behavior.

Above All Else – Be Reasonable

It may be that this last year didn’t turn out quite the way you had hoped.  You might be in a funk right now.  I know that for the last few months or so, I’ve been in a depression of sorts.  But be wary of loading yourself up with resolutions! You’re only one person, and this is just the beginning of the year.  You can’t do everything all at once.  More importantly, you don’t need to.

Now, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start down the path of trying new things and becoming more like the person you want to be — but don’t expect yourself to get everything done overnight.  That weight you want to lose: you didn’t gain it in a day, a month, or even probably a year.  That hobby you want to get better at: it takes time too.  And if you’re aiming at being a rockstar, I can tell you from close, personal experience with very successful friends: they still play their scales — daily. (It’s not a matter of liking it!)

The most important thing you can do to have a great new year is to allow yourself the freedom to try things that make you happy and to keep going at them, even when you have little failures along the way.

Practicing happiness is an artform all to itself, and one that takes a lifetime to master.  I hope you resolve to make it a priority this year.

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