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!
For me, it’s all about making goals and not resolutions for the new year. I’m just about to review my blog post from Jan 1, 2011 to see just how well I did with my goals. Writing them down and publishing for the world to see is a huge motivation for me. It makes me feel more accountable. And if I didn’t make all my goals, blogging about it helps me work out why and/or figure what I need to do (or not do) in the future.