I look forward to January like my kids look forward to Christmas. It’s the clean slate month of working on dreams; the month where anything seems possible. I get out my colorful pens and a fresh planner, and get to work writing down the things I most want to accomplish. Like many, I start January with willpower and excitement. The social events have slowed, I’m eating and sleeping better, I feel great! Then February sets in, the rain and darkness seem to intensify, and my resolution feels like a quaint memory.
For me, the hardest thing is focusing on just one resolution. It’s like life. I often feel like I’m being pulled in a bunch of different directions. Do I choose a resolution that revolves around my family, my marriage, my friendships, work, or myself? I know that if I come up with too many resolutions I’m likely to fail, but I have a hard time choosing between these most important areas of my life. After all, I know I can improve in all of them.
This year I’m trying a new strategy. I’m going to accept that I don’t want to focus on just one area of my life, and account for that. I’ve also been reading about the importance of defining values, and breaking down big goals into concrete actions, and I’m eager to apply those strategies to my resolutions going into 2019. Here’s my game plan:
Start with values
Before I come up with a resolution, I’m going to write down a list of my top 5 values.
Choose a resolution theme
With my list of values in hand, I’m going to choose a resolution theme that reflects those values. That way, the theme can encompass more than one important area of my life. Examples: Progress over perfect, Mindfulness, Doing hard things. Each of these themes can apply to work, marriage, parenting, exercise, etc.
List the most important focus areas:
Here’s where I get to write down all those areas I struggle to balance: work, parenting, marriage, friendship, exercise, self-care, spiritual life, creativity.
Brainstorm actionable ways to apply the resolution theme to the focus areas:
If my resolution theme is “doing hard things” and one focus area is self-care, then my action might be: go on 1 personal retreat this year. As crazy as it sounds, this would be really hard for me to do, but I know it would have a big payoff. Here’s another: Focus area: Exercise. Hard thing: Do one different exercise per week (yoga, lap swim, run, class at gym). For someone who consistently does the elliptical machine and few select arm weights, this will also be really hard! I plan to go through my list and come up with one actionable way to carry out the theme for each focus area. Just writing this list will probably be enough to urge me to make changes as they feel right. But if I find I’m not following through, I may go on to the next step.
(Optional) Come up with a specific timeline:
I may use the list I generated above when planning out my month, week, and day. Aside from helping me follow through, it will create a nice backbone of routines and relationships that support me as I go through the year.
Choose an accountability partner:
I think I’ll choose one person with whom to share my resolution theme, and ask that person to check-in with me to see how I’m doing. This will likely be a close friend of mine, or my husband. Having accountability partners is a big help in staying on track.
What are you resolutions this year? If you try my resolution theme idea please let me know how it worked for you. I’d love to hear your highest hopes for the new year!
Happy New Year,