The Not New Year’s Resolution, New Year’s Resolution

This is not a resolution.

It is something you are going to decide to do.

It just happens to start around the start of new year.

So, what are we going to call it then? New year’s resolutions seem to be falling out of fashion and there is a general backlash. We all know we are high on resolve after drinking and eating too much over the Christmas period, so we use it to try and assuage our guilt.

But, herein lies the fallacy. Improbable resolve results in more guilt!

We allow guilt to drive us on to make unrealistic resolutions which means by mid-January, we are already beating ourselves up. Hardly the kindest or the smartest way to set ourselves up for the year.

But we cannot throw the baby out with the bath water.

The start of year is filled with optimism and momentum and we need to capitalise on this energy to set things in motion. You don’t quite get this energy at any other time of the year where there is a zeitgeist and almost everyone is tuning into this energy and making positive changes. You would be foolish not take advantage of this energy, at least to think about what you want to aim for in the coming year. You might not get the chance to stop and think like this again and have all the stars aligned, and the wind behind you.

What trips us up with the resolutions is the scatter gun approach we tend to have. Some of us make a long list of everything we want to achieve and then try to shoe horn them all in. That is a recipe for disaster. Stay away from the long lists.

In setting resolutions which are just like setting goals, I came across this acronym, ‘MATS’ by Edward Vilga, which I think is easier than the usual SMART goals that we are all familiar with:

  1. Measurable
  2. Authentic
  3. Timebound
  4. Stretch

Measurable: I recommend you review your resolution once a month to see where you are. In your winter (for those of you who don’t know what I am talking about here when I refer to ‘your winter’, check out my book: Octopus on a Treadmill: Women, Success, Health, Happiness) when you are into self-care and contemplation, that is the best time to review your resolutions and course correct if necessary. To be able to review you have to have a way of measuring. Do something once a day or three times a week for example.

Authentic: This is so important. The biggest reason why people fail on their resolutions is because they don’t care enough about them. It doesn’t light them up. It is something they think they should be doing rather than something that they want to do. For resolutions to work and have enough energy behind them, they need to come from a place that makes you smile. Your resolutions should be aligned with your values, they should resonate with you. I fancy the idea of running everyday but when I think of running, I am not exactly beaming from ear to ear, so setting myself that as a fitness goal is not going to land well. Yoga however is a different kettle of fish. I can do yoga until the cows come home. I love the way my body feels when I am doing yoga. Setting myself a fitness goal in yoga is definitely going to happen as I don’t even think of it as exercise, I think of it as loving and healing my body.

Timebound: You need to have achieved your goal by a certain time. If you want to run 3 times a week, by the end of week, you need to know if you have hit your target or not. Then you need to decide how long you are going to do this for. This gives you focus.

Stretch: Your goal should be a little bit outside your comfort zone to give you a sense of achievement when you hit it. If you are already up to that target, extend the target. You need to feel you are growing with your resolutions.

In my book: Octopus on a Treadmill: Women, Success, Health, Happiness I always stress the importance of a holistic approach towards life by paying attention to these parts of your life:

  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Mental
  • Spiritual

One approach is to have one (no more than one!) resolution in each of these areas. The advantage of working in more than one area and having more than one resolution is that if you are failing in one area, the other areas can keep you going. Here is an example of what I did a few years ago:

1. Physical – Take up ballroom dancing
2. Emotional – When something upset me, I will allow myself one hour of fully wallowing and feeling sorry for myself and then after the hour was up, I will start shifting my thoughts onto something positive.
3. Mental – Listen to audio books on my commute
4. Spiritual – Meditate daily

How did I do with the above resolutions? The first one was a challenge as although I started a class, I missed some of the lessons and then it was hard to keep up with the rest of the class as I didn’t know the steps, so I gave up.

The second one remains a work in progress. Sometimes I just want to wallow for days depending on what has happened, but it helps me to not stay in a dark place forever. So maybe the limit of one hour is not realistic and a kinder resolution will be to start moving my thoughts to a positive place as soon as I am able.

The third and fourth are now habits and part of my way of life, so tick and tick.

If you have been there, done that and are so over lists and are now into the word or theme of the year, that is also a good way to go. In some ways that is a less structured approach so doesn’t work for everyone as some people need a box tick. With the theme or word some people simply get stuck on coming up with what the word should be. They want something all encapsulating. You could spend a lifetime looking for a word like that. My suggestion is just go with the first word that comes to mind and give yourself permission to change it when something better comes up.

The way the word or theme works is, you just choose a word or theme you want to be working towards that year like Patience, Kindness, Grace, Tenacity, Positive etc. You then make sure that in all areas of your life you try and reflect this quality. For example, you have chosen Patience as your word of the year. In situations where you find yourself losing your temper or on the verge of entering road rage on the motorway, you can pull yourself back from the brink by reminding yourself of your word.

My word for this year is Faith:

  • Faith in myself and my abilities
  • Faith that things will go my way and if they don’t, I will be just fine as it is part life’s tapestry
  • Faith to keep the faith when obstacles pop up and to not give up
  • Faith to take the bold steps I need to take to live the life that best suits me

So, what are you going to do this year? What goals are you going to set yourself and are you going to be kind to yourself and pay attention to your whole self when setting these goals, if you choose to go for a word or theme what is yours going to be?

Tell me about your goals and words, I am genuinely interested to hear about them and to hear about your progress.