How To Turn Weak Intentions Into
Strong New-Year Resolutions
By Jacquie Wise
A new year is always exciting—brimming with opportunity and possibility.
But what if this year ends up being full of disappointments? There are plenty of standard tips around about how to set resolutions: break up goals into small action steps, have a contingency plan … Here are nine less common tips to ensure your new year is truly a happy one.
1. Schedule play and self-care into your week. Without guilt!
In our efforts to succeed, we often expect too much of ourselves. We have so many ‘gonnas’, that we create impossible schedules that are not sustainable. We try to maintain punishing work hours. The more tired you are, the more you’ll slow down. You won’t be able to concentrate as well as you should, and you’ll make more mistakes. Play and rest is vital to your productivity, as any student will tell you. Scheduling play into your week means making an appointment with yourself, each week, to do something fun with a friend, fiddle with a hobby, potter around at home, or simply do nothing. If you’re going to allow yourself to do nothing, do it properly. Just veg out and enjoy it. No guilt allowed. This is a priority essential to your wellbeing. Keep those appointments as rigidly as you would an appointment with your management. Do you let other people down? Are you going to let yourself down?
2. Rely on others to extend your will power.
Gather a strong support team around you. They’ll be your scaffolding while your ‘building’ is being constructed. For example, a friend who’s good at organising can help you with your clutter. If you trade skills or favours, you won’t be using anyone. Maybe invest in paying a professional to kick-start or refocus you, even if only on an occasional basis. This could be a personal trainer, a professional organiser or a housecleaner.
3. Focus on what you want to be, rather than what you want to do or have.
This will help cultivate in you the characteristics that’ll make achieving your resolutions easy. Well—easier anyway. What kind of person do you want to be by the end of 2018? Someone who’s more confident … more decisive … better organised … stronger…? Keeping that focus in mind will help you make more constructive moment-by-moment choices. If you don’t have a clear idea of the kind of person you’re trying to become, identify specific characteristics or behaviours in people you admire that you want to copy. It helps to stick pictures of them on your vision-board or at least on a notice board. They’ll inspire you.
4. Narrow your focus to moment-by-moment choices.
Life is very simple: yes or no. Yes I will eat this thing, no I won’t. Yes I will put this away right, now, no I won’t. Yes I will yell at my partner, no I won’t. If you get into this habit, you’ll be better able to stop things building up.
5. Build in intentional imperfections as you go.
Perfectionism is the greatest de-motivator and is at the root of procrastination. It’s the fear of not being good enough that makes us terrified of making a mistake. The only way to conquer this fear is to intentionally make everything you do less perfect. Of course, some things need to be accurate, such as accounts, or anything going to court. But for day-to-day activities, stop yourself from spending hours reaching a standard that is not necessary. Think ‘good enough’ or ‘good enough for now.’ Any step you take is better than nothing.
Do a little less than what you expect to accomplish. Notice how it makes you more realistic anyway.
6. Make more realistic time-estimates.
How often do you hear yourself saying things took longer than expected? That indicates you need to refine your time-management skills. The only way to be realistic in how much time to allow to accomplish an activity is to get a sense for how long it’ll take. Logical? Of course. Yet it is the one thing so many people overlook. Notice the time you begin and end standard activities. For example, if you’re driving somewhere, notice exactly when you left home and what time you reached your destination. Time yourself in different circumstances, because getting there on a Sunday morning will be quicker than getting there in peak-hour traffic. Allow for things going wrong, or for interruptions. If you do the thing quicker than expected, great. If a problem delays you, you’ll have allowed for it.
And by the way, the only way to make realistic time-estimates for a goal is to estimate every single action step, so it follows you will have broken down your goal into bite-sized steps, with a deadline for each step. You will also have compared this task with a similar task to guess how long this one is likely to take. If you’re off mark, you can adjust your time-estimate for next time.
7. Select your major priority and get on a roll with it.
Sometimes, what works best is to focus on one important thing and keep plugging away at that in favour of anything else. It might mean delaying other priorities—too bad. You’ve decided this priority is the top one. Plug away at it in every spare moment you can create. Occasionally, your mind will tug you in the direction of all the other things you could/should be doing, but they’ll have to wait. Get this monkey off your back as quickly as you can and then pick another one. Of course, this system doesn’t work for an ongoing project like maintaining good eating habits.
8. If you fall off the bike, get on again quick as you can.
If you fail once, do you tend to sabotage the whole project? Typical examples are: I’ve eaten this cake so my diet is completely ruined, or ‘I haven’t put this thing away so I’m useless at organising.’ Build in small pleasures or delays into any goal—times when you can ‘get off the bike’ by choice. Then you get back on again before too much more damage is done. It’s ok. You don’t have to be perfect.
I was going to stop at eight but I can’t resist this next one:
9. Balance going with the flow with being focused.
Take it easy. Does life have to be that intense? So what, if you don’t achieve an action step? So what, if that goal isn’t happening? First, figure out if it’s what you truly want, or if you’re following other people’s ‘shoulds’. Next, figure out what pace will work best for you. Too much going with the flow may result in drifting, and too much focus turns you into a miserable maniac. The middle way is always the best way.
If I can help you make sure 2018 is truly a happy year for you, please contact me directly to arrange a convenient appointment time.
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