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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Tips for Making (Better) Resolutions

I never fails, as each year comes to a close, I can't help but notice bookshelves, television advertisements and new feeds are filled to the brim with self-improvement and weight loss products, and inevitably my husband and I get into a "discussion" over the effectiveness of making New Year's resolutions.

My husband, a self proclaimed "TCB-er" (taking care of business), hates resolutions.  From his perspective, if something needs changed, he just decides to change it, and it's done.  I, on the other hand, love resolutions and realize that if making changes were as easy as my husband makes it sound, more than the estimated 8% of resolution makers would reach their goal.  I love the idea of a fresh start, a clean slate, the new faces at the gym, and find the motivation from  new comers to exercise contagious.  

The truth is, resolutions do have a bad rap.  People often make lofty, elaborate goals without giving any thought to the who, what, why, when, and how they will get there.  But really, that's true about goals in general, not just New Year's resolutions.  Whether you're heart is set on making new goals for 2015 or you're you plan to wait until later in the year, here are four tips for making (better) resolutions.

Get rid of the "shoulds": Things you think you should do are not a resolution make. If you want to reach your goal, you have to passionately believe in it.  For example, I probably should cut out my beyond excessive use of coffee creamer.  But ya know what?  I don't really want to.  I like my coffee creamer.  I might be able to muscle my way through a few days without it but the minute that my will power weans, I'm certain I'd easily fall back into my old ways.   If you're beginning sentences with "I should…"  or "My husband thinks I should…." or "My mother thinks I should….", ask yourself if this is a goal you really want to work towards or as Carrie Bradshaw said, "are you shoulding all over yourself?".

Don't bite off more than you can chew: I'm going to lose weight, eat better, join crossfit, run a marathon, do a Tough Mudder, attend yoga once a week, utilize daily affirmations and eat only organic produce.  I am exaggerating a tad, but it's not uncommon for many to make a resolution list a mile long.  While all of those are worthy goals, your time might be better spent focusing on one or two main goals and layering in a new ones as you go.

Think of it like juggling.  When learning to juggle you start off with just a few balls and add more as you improve your skills.  Keeping ten balls (goals) in the air is difficult, and often when you drop one, you drop them all.  Pick a few resolutions to work on first and as you build confidence and momentum slowly add in more.

Focus on how you want to feel: In her book, The Desire Map, Danielle Laporte says,
"Knowing how you actually want to feel is the most potent form of clarity that you can have.  Generating those feelings is the most powerfully creative thing you can do with your life."  
So often we make goals, hoping in the end we feel more confident, happier, etc.  Sometimes that works sometimes it doesn't.

Focus on how we want to feel, instead of what we want to do, and you might find your goals change.   Ask yourself how do you want to feel  in 2015. Now, what do you need to do to feel the way you want to feel?  Chase a feeling, not a goal.

Consider what you're willing to sacrifice: Everything, EVERYTHING, in life is a trade off.  No choice comes without a price.  Everyday, I choose to workout instead of have free time, I blog during nap time instead of cleaning the house, and at night I play Trivia Crack on my phone instead of going directly to bed.  As a result, I'm short on free time, I have a less than clean house, and I could use an extra 15 minutes of sleep, but these are the choices I've made and I'm willing to go without these things in pursuit of my priorities.

Most likely, your goals will be no different. You will have to sacrifice something whether it be in the form of free time, sleeping, or nights out with friends.  As your plan your road map to success, look down the road to anticipate what working towards these goals might "cost" you.  Be honest with yourself.  If you're not willing to pay the price, this goal may not be for you, and that is ok!  Find something you are willing to sacrifice and work from there.

Your turn:  Do you "do" New Year's resolutions?  Share yours! 

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