Thoughts on creating healthy resolutions

New year resolutions can be exciting and challenging.  Exciting because they present new possibilities. Challenging because they introduce change into our lives.  While many of us are ready to launch into our #goals with an energy discovered during NYE celebrations, most of us will quickly burn out or loose motivation often due to the loftiness of our expectations. 

Many of you probably have already burned-out, and are rethinking the resolutions you pledged to accomplish in early January.  There is nothing wrong with re-scoping our resolutions with a new frame of mind.  Below are few things to keep in mind as you reidentify your goals for 2019. 

Resolutions should celebrate your abilities.

As we reflect on the last year, it is tempting to think about all the things we did wrong, and craft resolutions focused on avoiding the same mistakes.  This perspective is problematic because it shapes resolutions from a negative frame of reference.  In other words, if we fail to accomplish these goals, it automatically implies we haven’t bettered ourselves.  Crafting resolutions that aim to develop our current talents will ensure positivity drives our effort.  By approaching our resolutions from a position that celebrates our abilities – as opposed to critical scrutiny— we will be more inclined to push through the challenges and enjoy maintaining the result once accomplished.  By the end of the year, if we have not achieved the goal, at least we know we intrinsically enjoyed the journey, instead of spending 365 days running away from bad memories.

Resolutions should reflect the reality of your time.

If drastic change is the focus of your 2019, then I suggest taking your time.  Slow down!  There are only so many resources (i.e. money) you can accumulate in a year.  Self-improvement happens through milestones, not overnight.  Be fair to yourself and give yourself adequate time to accomplish your change-goal, even if it means making 2019 one check-point along a multi-year resolution journey.  For instance if your goal is to buy a house, but you have terrible credit, only $5k in savings and live in NY, maybe focus on paying off debt to improve your credit in 2019 before cutting all costs and amassing savings in a market that is seller friendly.  If your goal is to run a marathon but you haven’t worked out a day in your life, maybe make 2019 about building endurance and a healthy heart and leave 2020 to training.  By breaking up goals into digestible chunks, we are more likely to achieve them in the long run and maintain our progress.

Keep your list short

We only have 24 hours in a day, 8 of which is spent sleeping (hopefully?), 9 probably at a full-time job (or looking for one), and 1-2 hours commuting somewhere or running errands.  That leaves only about 5 hours to divide amongst family, friends, hobbies, … and yourself.  If you try to do too much, you will naturally prioritize a handful of resolutions over time and inevitably fail to accomplish a few of them.  For some this may lead to disappointment and the belief that you “failed” to redistribute your time appropriately. The truth is life happens and all of your goals will have to yield to the limited time you have in a day.  Why set yourself up for failure with 20 #2019goals?  Beginning the year with 3 tangible resolutions that can fit into your current schedule will avoid this scenario and the perception of failure.

Breakdown goals into action items.

It’s one thing to say “I want a healthy lifestyle.” It’s another to say “I want to pack lunch and be active for at least 30 minutes everyday.” One goal is amorphous and has no tangible indicators to signal accomplishment. Another is identifiable, and anyone can tell if it was achieved.  While I am a fan of vision boards, there is a need to digest these visual aphorisms of encouragement into discernable action items that we can check off of a list.  If my goal is “spend more time with my partner”, my action items may be: (1) wake up at 5:30 am, (2) get home by 6:30 pm, (3) eat dinner with said partner without phones and TV, and (4) if I have to work on the weekends, work before partner wakes up and after partner goes back to sleep (but spend daylight hours together).  By subdividing our amorphous goals into action items, we have a launching pad for success and a skeleton framework on which to build.