Forget the New Year's Resolutions, Change Your Life Instead
It's that time of year again when we look ahead to rebooting our lives and refocusing on realizing our dreams.
But New Year’s resolutions can quickly become pretty meaningless because they’re either too ambitious, unrealistic or too vague. So, I’m going to provide three ways to give yourself a better chance of meeting your personal aspirations.
Create monthly goals
If you come up with up a very ambitious resolution, such as "I am going to lose 25 pounds this year," or a vague one, such as “I’m going to become more organized,” you’re probably setting yourself up for failure.
Rather, think about one habit you would like to change. You might say, "I am going to replace my evening dessert with a piece of fruit," or "I am going to write down two daily goals each morning." Then, focus your energy on that one change for 30 days. If you need to break it down even more, concentrate changing that habit for one week at a time. If you make it through the year—and this approach makes it more likely that you will—you will have made 12 positive changes in your life by this time next year. Even if half of your goals go unmet, you will have made six improvements in your life.
Adopt good habits
Sometimes, it isn't that our goals are too ambitious or even that we don't have the desire to change. Instead, it may be more a matter of looking at life as "half full" or "half empty." Our goals are often focused on the negative, such as "I will lose weight" or "I will be more organized." The unspoken parts of these goals are "I am fat," and "I am disorganized."
Each day you repeat these goals, your mind focuses on the unspoken part. You end up insulting yourself every morning. No wonder you give up on these resolutions. Instead of trying to break bad habits, change your focus to begin adopting good habits. Consider something like, "I will eat a piece of fruit at each meal." This brings no negative connotation. It is not insulting. It is simply about adding something good and healthy to each meal. So don’t concentrate on breaking bad habits. Simply try to add some new, good habits.
Choose who you spend time with
Consider who you spend most of your time with. Are they people who are judgmental? Do they criticize you (even if done with good intentions)? Do you feel better or worse about yourself when you are with them?
If you are spending your time with people who are judgmental—those who sigh with disgust if you’re late for a lunch date or who always point out your lack of organization—you would do yourself a favor if you limit the amount of time you spend with them. Listen to Dr. Howard S. Friedman, a distinguished professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside, who has been studying the predictors and patterns of long-term health and long life for 20 years. He recommends that we learn to "choose jobs, join social groups, and select hobbies that will naturally lead you to a whole host of healthier patterns and activities."