Some New Year’s resolutions are impossible to keep: “I’m going to remember to change my password at least once a week”. No, you won’t remember, and even if you do, you won’t remember each new password! Or “I’m going to stop eating chocolate for six months”. Except you sort of have to finish those truffles your Aunt Sadie made especially for you, don’t you? And Valentine’s Day is February 14th and of course, you-know-who always gives you chocolates for Valentine’s Day and you can’t not eat them, that would be cruel, right?
So instead of making resolutions which are doomed to failure, why not try something different?
Set a small goal for each month, not for the whole year
Instead of making one resolution, why not make twelve by breaking things down month by month? For example, in January, perhaps you can decide to get up or go to bed one hour earlier. It’s a small goal, but it could become a health-boosting habit you’ll continue practicing throughout the year.
In February, instead of waiting for Valentine’s Day, why not decide to show a little love every day? Just one, small, random act of kindness. See where it leads. Maybe to another yearlong (lifelong?) habit. Think of other goals for the other ten months: a month of healthier lunches, a month of trying one new thing each day… your imagination is the only limit!
Choose a “focus word” for your year
Instead of making a traditional (easily-broken) resolution, why not opt for a theme or “focus word” this year? For example, Miranda Marquit, who writes for the personal financial website MoneyNing, has chosen “growth” as her theme. She says “Setting a theme still gives you some leeway to set mini-goals along the way with your life, so you don’t have to abandon goals altogether. I still set goals for myself. However, they are more about lifestyle changes than they are about hitting certain benchmarks”.
Maybe your theme can be something as simple as “kindness,” or “understanding”. If you felt 2016 was a terrible year, perhaps you can make this year the year of “perspectives,” and begin to find a way to understand why things are the way they are. Write your word down, and then keep it where you can always see it. Maybe on your computer, or above your door, or on your bathroom mirror. It will remind you what your year is all about.
Write a letter to your future self
This one sounds easy, but it will take a year to find out if it worked. Sit down and write a heartfelt letter to yourself and date it January 1, 2017. Tell yourself all you hope to accomplish this year, all the things you want to see evolve, and all the changes you wish to enact. Put it away. And then open it on January 1, 2018, so you can see just how far you really came.
A few words of timeless wisdom
In 1942, the legendary American singer and musician Woody Guthrie, wrote a 33-point list of what he called “New Years Rulin’s.” they aren’t exactly resolutions; they’re more like earnest, brave and heart-warming “rules to live by” that we’ve come to be tragically cynical about today. They included such items as: “Work more and better; Write a song a day; Read lots of good books; Learn people better; Don’t get lonesome; Dream good; Stay glad; Keep hoping machine running; Love everybody…”
And those last four are just about perfect rules, aren’t they? Dream good. Stay glad. Keep your hoping machine running. And love everybody.
Here’s to a happy, healthy, hope-filled 2017! #HappyNewYear2017