Focus Those Resolutions

Here it is, mid-January, and how many of us have already tossed aside our 2017 New Year’s resolutions? Sorry to be cynical; I’m just saying……

Why do so few of us stick to the lofty resolutions we set on January 1?

Perhaps our resolutions are too lofty, causing us to cast them aside the moment they feel unattainable. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. We need to slice our ambitions into digestible parts. Rather than saying you are going to run a marathon in 2017, perhaps it’s best to say you will jog around the block three times a week until you are up for more. Then run each morning until you can do a 5K on the weekends. If you keep meeting your mini-goals, the marathon won’t be far behind.

Our resolutions need to be focused on process as opposed to the end-goal. Writing a novel or losing 60 pounds are great goals, but how are you actually going to make them happen.   Rather than saying you are going to write a novel, you should resolve to write for 5 minutes every day. Rather than wishing you could be 60 pounds lighter, you might resolve to keep a daily food journal or eliminate after dinner snacking. Big dreams and lofty goals are wonderful to work towards, but it’s the daily habits that will get us there. If we work on the process, the rewards will come.

Sometimes resolutions are too general. “I will eat less”, or “I will exercise more”. What does that even mean? Better to say, “I resolve not to eat more than 1200 calories a day”, or “I will do 10 sit-ups and 5 push-ups each morning before I shower”.

It’s one thing to say, “I’ll be more self-compassionate”. But it’s more effective to resolve to take specific steps to do so. Resolve to take a relaxing bath each evening, or allow yourself to reflect over a cup of tea in the middle of the day, or carve out time each week to bike or play tennis or read for pleasure? Better yet, when and how often will you do these things. Be specific.

Another resolution killer is black and white thinking. How often do we think either we are keeping our resolution, or we broke it. We’re doing it, or we’re not. Remember, there is no reason to quite altogether if you veer off track. If you miss a day of exercise, you can still exercise tomorrow. Give yourself permission to mess up and recover.   Tomorrow may not be January1st, but it is still a new day.

Finally, why do we think resolutions have to be written in stone. After all, resolution has more than one meaning. It can mean, a firm commitment to do or not do something, but it can also mean the action of solving a problem, as in a satisfactory resolution. In the digital world it means improved focus. Resolutions can evolve along with circumstances, and in doing so they bring more focus to your end-goals.

To sum it up, if we want to make resolutions that stick:

  1. chunk goals into attainable pieces.
  2. focus on the process, not the end goal.
  3. be specific.
  4. it’s okay to think gray.
  5. resolutions evolve.

So, if you’ve already cast aside your 2017 resolutions, it’s not too late to make some new ones. Here’s to a happy, healthy 2017, filled with love, laughter, and bite sized, specific, process oriented resolutions.

All the best for the New Year,

Coach Karen

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