This is the time of year that most people start to slip on their resolutions. Good intentions have come face to face with real life- and like it or not- real life usually wins.
As a member of the Blogher Life Well Lived Blogger Panel, I was asked to answer the question:
How do you keep/maintain your new years resolution?
Inquiring minds want to know: what secrets do the ultra-organized people of the world have to take them past January in the land of resolutions?
Over the past month I've read countless blog posts and magazine articles about making smart resolutions and strategies to keep them. I've tossed the topic idea around in my head for awhile...but other than the post that I devoted to my mantra of "Focus on myself " for the new year, I've avoided the subject somewhat.
I could easily chime in now with some practical advice of how to break down a resolution into bite sized pieces to tackle, suggest that you find an accountability partner, or encourage you to create a large visual reminder of your resolution to display in your home...
I think part of why resolutions fail is because resolutions are generally designed to expire.
Just like a gallon of milk has a shelf life, so does a resolution. That doesn't mean that the gallon of milk was bad to start with, (or that your resolution wasn't a great idea), it just means that its time has passed and it's time to freshen up.
Last year I didn't make any resolutions, and instead I made a list of goals. (Because that was the very en-vouge thing to do according to my internet sources).
I'll give you one guess whether or not I achieved the majority of the goals on my list.
But here's the thing- those goals were based on the path that I saw ahead of me at the end of December 2010- and they could in no way predict what the year had in store for me. I'm not exactly happy about some of the roadblocks that stood between me and what I was hoping to achieve in 2011. But at the same time, some of those unfortunate circumstances allowed me (ahem, forced me), to redirect my focus and my energy elsewhere. As a result, I reached several milestones that weren't even in my line of sight when I set up my yearly goals.
I think part of the reason that most of us never make it past Feb with our resolutions is because while our resolutions are sitting on paper somewhere- we are out in the world living, growing, changing.
So my advice on how to keep your resolutions is to keep re-evaluating them. Keep changing them, and keep replacing them as you see fit.
Give yourself permission to throw away the spoiled milk and buy a new gallon...or not.
Here's what I mean: If drinking more milk was your resolution, but somehow that first gallon got shoved to the back of the fridge for awhile and expired while you weren't paying attention- why on earth would you keep that spoiled gallon around all year- every day opening the fridge to watch it curdle as a reminder of your failure?
Oh well. Guess I should have drank it while I had the chance.
You'd throw it out. (Because that's what people do with spoiled milk).
But then you have to ask yourself whether or not it's worth it to buy more. Maybe letting the first gallon spoil was an oversight, and buying a fresh gallon is all that you need to get you back on the right track. But if it turns out that you don't actually like milk- don't keep buying it all year only to repeat the same mistake over and over again! Think about why you resolved to drink more milk, (stronger bones, as an alternative to sugary drinks, etc), and figure out how else to achieve the same end point.
Don't keep your expired resolutions around only to watch them curdle. Re-visit. Re-evaluate. Replace.
The one thing that I have read over and over about resolutions is to make them specific. They say, don't just resolve to "get into better shape." Spell out how you plan to do that: join a yoga class, run 2x a week, etc. etc.
My suggestion is actually going to be the opposite. I think that specifics are great ideas- and maybe worth jotting down as a place to get your brain flowing for ideas for action- but I think chaining ourselves to the specifics is one of the easiest ways to fail and give up completely. Sometimes our original plan just plain doesn't work out- but it doesn't have to be cause to abandon ship completely.
Keep your eye on the prize- always remembering that the prize is the value that motivated you to make a resolution in the first place. It shouldn't matter to anyone whether you drink the milk, or simply opt for a bottle of water and a cup of yogurt instead- just don't forget that your yogurt has an expiration date too.
Do you have any thoughts on making/keeping resolutions? Hop over to Blogher to share your comments on the topic, and while you're there don't forget to enter the current sweepstakes for your chance to win a Kindle Fire.