There is something really inspiring about opening a fresh, clean calendar. I can see why people make New Year’s resolutions. It’s a great time for reflection. It’s healthy to want to improve a thing or two in our lives and make this next calendar year better than the one before. However, I find people go about the New Year’s resolution in an unhelpful way. We tend not to know how to motivate ourselves to make changes. Here are some thoughts on making a better resolution for 2012:
- Choose something that benefits you on a daily basis. One mistake is that we choose to make a change that will only be felt months from now (I want to look great in that dress I’m going to wear next July.). Or we decide to make a change to please other people (I want to lose weight for my spouse). Like it or not, that will not inspire you on a regular basis to make changes. Instead, picture a change that you will notice each day. Imagine what it feels like, what you will notice, and how it will improve your life. I want to be more organized at work. I’m picturing what it will be like to walk in the office and everything is put in the right place. That’s a big relief. I won’t have to dig through mountains of paper. I can picture how having less clutter helps me feel more clear, more relaxed. That visualization and getting in touch with how I want to feel helps with motivation.
- Identify exactly what this change is going to take. Outline the steps to get to your goal. For me, its going to take 10-15 minutes a day just putting things away. Ask yourself: Can I really do these steps? Modify your goal if the steps require more than you can do. If you are not realistic, it’s not going to work.
- Use positive reinforcement. If you are punitive with yourself, you will rebel against your own goals. If I start to criticize myself for all the times I slip a little with organization, I’m not going to feel very good about myself. I might start to believe that I can’t achieve the goal and give up. This is counterproductive. For tips on being more positive with yourself, check out my blog on giving yourself some credit.
- Put support and structure in place. When something is really important to me, I try to find a way to hold myself accountable. Sometimes I hire a professional to help me with my goal. Sometimes I sign up for a class or a group. Maybe I’ll even publish it in a blog (okay, this is the first time I’m trying it!). The idea is that you need some pushing, so you need to find a way to get this. Recently, some of my fellow gym-goers have been emailing to find out when I’m going to the gym. This is extra incentive, because if I tell someone I’m going, I really need to follow through. Get creative- find the right vehicle for support with your goal. It could be telling friends, posting it on Facebook, joining a structured program, finding a mentor, writing yourself a letter about why you are doing what you are doing. I’d love to hear if you have some ideas. Please comment or contact me.
- Give yourself some room. Allow for being sick, tired, or pouty. And then have a concrete plan for how to bounce back. Maybe you go by the 90% rule. For me, that means 9 out of 10 work days I try to put away my papers.
Good luck and Happy New Year!