Yesterday, December 28th 2012, I completed my 2012 Resolution. Second time in my life I've actually managed to carry a resolution through the whole year. My resolution was to read the entire Bible in the year, and with the help of my Bible Reading Plan iPod app (and the Big Man himself), I finished it yesterday :) I'm pretty happy… wasn't sure in about September whether I could finish or not, and so I'm happy I finished.
So I decided to blog about achievable resolutions. I think most people make resolutions without actually expecting to be able to carry them through the whole year. Which is fine, if that's what you want but I want to talk about resolutions you can actually keep. Wording your resolution in a way that props you up and helps you. And, believe me - it feels really great being able to actually keep a resolution the whole year, so I think it's worth considering!
What I mean was that if I had made a resolution to "read my Bible every day". I would have failed that wayyyy back in January. Because, honestly, that's just not realistic. You're gonna have days that you're not going to do it. Even the most dedicated & motivated person in the whole world has lazy days. And as soon as you "fail" your resolution, you no longer have motivation to keep going. You've already failed, so why bother continuing? But since I worded my resolution saying I was going to read the whole thing by the end of the year, if I miss a day, it's no big deal, I can just make it up the next day. And so, in that way, I had extra motivation to try even harder to catch up.
So basically I think putting some thought into how you word your resolution, and how you plan to accomplish your resolution can really help you succeed. And so here are a couple hints I've thought of to help make a well calculated resolution (one that is actually achievable):
Be realistic. At some point in 2013, you're going to get lazy. Sorry, but it's the truth. But that doesn't mean that your resolution has to fail. Try to see if there's a way to accommodate your laziness. For example, for my bible reading plan, I could read my bible on my iPod in bed. And I actually did that a lot because I was too lazy to actually sit up and physically open the actual book. That sounds extremely lazy but it was the truth, but I had an accommodation for that so my bouts of laziness didn't hinder my progress too too much.
2. Be specific / Have a plan.
Resolution like "losing weight" or "going to bed earlier" are just not going to work. You need to be specific with yourself if you expect to follow through. You need to make a specific plan of how you're going to lose weight or what time you plan on going to bed. For my reading of the bible, I found an awesome Bible Reading Plan app which would tell me exactly which chapters each day to read so that I would complete it on time. Without that, if I only have the goal of "reading the whole Bible" with no plan of how I would do it, there's no way at all I'd have succeeded. So a plan is super important!
This is a big one. An action oriented resolution would be a resolution having to do with doing something. For example: reading the bible, exercising, quitting smoking, etc. These are things that you choose to do or not do. They might be hard, but they are still choices. A results oriented resolution, on the other hand, is something where the focus of the resolution is the result. For example: losing weight, becoming a nicer person, being more organized, etc. I don't like these as much because they are less in your control, and so can be discouraging if you don't get the result you're looking for even if you put the effort in.
And I think most result oriented resolutions can be rephrased into an action oriented resolution. For example:
- "Losing weight" could maybe be "exercise 3 times a week for at least an hour" or maybe "Join Weight Watchers and follow their point system diet." Something that has to do with specific actions you can take, not the anticipated result.
- "Becoming a nicer person" could maybe be something like "Spend 5 minutes at the end of each day deciding on something nice you can do for someone the next day."
- "Being more organized" could be "Set up and use filefolders to organize bills and receipts" or "Start using a dayplanner".
You'll notice these action oriented resolutions actually help with point #2 about being specific and having a plan.
One of the things I liked best about my Bible reading plan is that it had no scheduled reading for any weekends ever. As in, I had weekends off. (or, weekends could be used to catch up on readings I missed during the week). It was really good and I don't think I could have finished without that. Just mentally it's nice to know that, yes, you do get a break. Weekends worked for me for that, but depending on the resolution, you can give yourself lots different kind of breaks. Maybe a week on, a week break, a week on, a week break. People might think this is cheating, but hey, you'd still be doing whatever your resolution is 26 weeks a year more than you were before so that's good. Plan some breaks for yourself! You're in charge here so you might as well reward yourself with some breaks!
5. Long term resolutions (ie time to catch up)
These only really work if you have a well established plan (see #2). But you know, I like the idea of being able to catch up if I fall behind and still be able to finish my resolution. Like the Bible reading plan. Coming out of the summer, I was 5 weeks behind. But I really put my mind to it in September/October, decided I was too far in to not finish and voila. My next year resolution (still working on it), I'm thinking about doing *something* once a week. But I'm not going to phrase it like that, I'm going to do *something* 52 times in the year. Meaning that if I miss a week or two, I still have the ability to double up a couple weeks and catch up. I think this is really important. Because when you do catch up, you feel so good! And motivated all over again to finish!
6. Hard at the beginning, easier as the year goes on
Let's face it, we're all going to be the most motivated at the beginning of January. So if you could find a resolution that gets easier with time, you might have a pretty good chance of succeeding. My one example for this is actually my first resolution I kept the entire year. It was maybe 3 or 4 years ago now, I made the resolution to start going to church in Kingston (I hadn't been before). (cool story that actually goes with this, but not getting into it now… maybe I'll blog about some other time...). Anyways it was way hard at first because I didn't know what church to go to and was freaked out about going by myself. But after I found one I liked and found some friends there and got to know it, it became easy and fun. Not even like a chore anymore. But at first was really hard and so it was good that it was January and I was super motivated to do it.
Not going to lie, I think most of my resolutions are "Starting resolutions". As in, I start doing something good instead of trying to stop doing something bad. I'm not sure if starting is better or not, I've just always been more inclined to be a starter. Probably because my main challenge is laziness so to fight laziness you pretty much have to start doing something, lol. So yeah, I'm not at all sure if ones better or easier than the other, so I'll leave it at that.
8. Tell someone your resolution.
I find having someone to be accountable to can be really helpful. You've told someone (choose wisely, lol). It's out there. So they'll know if you fail and they can maybe help you a little along the road to success. I find this extremely motivating. Especially if it's someone you respect and you want them to respect you too. I know the hardest thing I've ever done in my whole life I only managed to force myself to do because I told someone I was going to do it and I didn't want them to think I had chickened out. So yes, this actually does work and can be a HUGE help. I know some people don't want to tell anyone their resolution because then people will know if they fail. That thinking right there is preparing yourself to fail, which is NOT what you want (see #9). I'm not saying, post it as your facebook status or anything. No, have one or two close friends or family member you trust and share it with them.
This is the most important! 100% you need to believe it's possible! Really believe it. Otherwise you don't have a chance. The whole thing is psychological, and you need your mind to fight your mind. You need to actually believe you can do it. Hopefully you have a reasonable, planned out goal, and with it you can fight against your lazy and pessimistic parts of your mind and rock that resolution!
So, to summarize, here are a couple examples of made up "well calculated, achievable resolutions" (with which of my suggestions they follow in brackets):
- I want to take more photos this year = I want to take some photos at at least 24 separate events in 2013 (which averages to 2 events a month) (2, 3, 5). An event doesn't need to be something big it can just be a walk in the park with the kids. I can use my camera in my new iPod if I am too lazy to grab my actual camera (1). (lots of break time here: 4)
- I want to get more in shape this year = I want to do three 45 mins workouts a week (3). Mondays and Thursday at the gym after work and Wednesday morning runs (2) - with the option of making them up at a different time if I miss those (but will try hard to stick to the schedule) (5). My goal is to successfully do this for 48 out of the 52 weeks (1, 4).
I know it sounds a little intense but I'm thinking having a well thought out plan is the best way to actually be successful in a New Years Resolution.
So yeah, still working on the details of my own 2013 resolution. Gonna be my toughest yet, and I'm actually struggling with #9 - believing I can do it!!!!! … so, working on that, lol. But I will try to factor in most of my own suggestions in the working of my 2013 resolution :)
Anybody else have any New Years Resolution hints? These are just some of the things I could think of, I'm sure there are tons of other awesome hints out there!
Happy Almost New Years Everyone!!