Resolutions 2.0

Via on Dec 25, 2011

How to set goals you will actually attain.

(Photo: SimplyEighties)

 

So, you’re thinking about New Year’s resolutions.

This is the year. This is the year you practice yoga daily, lose ten pounds, stop procrastinating, get to bed earlier, get up earlier, meditate more, be nicer, save more money, stop drinking coffee, get your dream job  and learn how to leap tall buildings in a single bound. 2012 is your year. I have some unfortunate news for you:

No. It’s not.

Here’s the thing, unless something has radically changed for you recently, you probably aren’t going to make any radical changes. Ironic, huh. In fact, it’s been said that the definition of insanity is  doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

The clean slate of a new year is seductive. We want to overhaul everything we perceive as imperfect or flawed about ourselves and the blank new calendar feels like the perfect opportunity. So how does it work? How can you make resolutions that you’ll keep past February and have meaningful change in your life?

 

A few things to consider:

1. New Year = New Resolutions. If you’ve had it on your list for the past five years and you haven’t done it, why will it be different this year? In fact, if you haven’t successfully made the change, maybe it’s time to reevaluate whether or not it’s something you actually want. Many people carry an idea of who they are supposed to be that’s left over from college (or high school–or earlier still). Who are you right now? What do you like about yourself? About your life? What do you want more of in your life? What are you ready to leave behind?

2. Know your “whys.” Are these changes things that you actually want? Are they someone else’s goals that sounded like a good idea? Knowing why you want to make a change in your life is significant. Wanting to drink less coffee because it’s affecting your sleep quality is an internal motivation. In terms of a goal you’ll stick with–that’s a very good thing. Wanting to drink less coffee because Dr. Oz said you should…not so much. It’s great to look to friends or role models for inspiration, but in order to set a goal that you will reach, the motivation needs to come from within.

3. Build on a current positive behavior. I’ve been gradually moving from vegetarian towards vegan. A good example of building on a current habit might be for me to move to eating dairy once a week or every other week. If you meditate for ten minutes in the morning, try for 15. This is a good area of your life to consider when choosing resolutions. What choices make you feel proud? How can you build on them?

4. Add habits instead of removing them. If you’d like to drink less coffee, start by adding more water or green tea. If you want to quit smoking, add a short walk at a time you normally smoke. It’s human nature to rebel. The minute anyone tells you that you can’t have something it immediately becomes more attractive. Add in positive behaviors that make the negative ones less comfortable.

5. Think mantra rather than makeover. Every year for the past ten years or so, I’ve found a word or mantra emerges that affects my year. Last year, it was “surrender.” I’m still working on it. Sometimes a word or phrase can be very instrumental towards positive change. Find a quote, or even a single word that moves you. Write it up. Paint it. Put it where you see it often.

6. Focus on internal versus external needs.  “I want to save more money every month” might actually mean “I want to feel secure.” “I want to lose weight” might actually mean “I want to love the way my body looks.” Saving money might make you feel more secure. Losing weight might make you feel better about your body and improve your health. Addressing your internal needs will create more meaningful, lasting change, regardless of external outcome. Peeling the layers away to figure out what it is you actually want will definitely make a difference in your year.

7. Be specific. If you did the last part, this should be easy. “I want to go to yoga more often” is vague. “I want to go to the 6 a.m. yoga class Mondays and Wednesdays” is specific. A specific, quantifiable goal is less likely to get lost in the shuffle. Being specific also helps you choose an attainable goal. I want to clean up the Earth; I can start by remembering to bring out my compost bucket every day.

8. If none of this helps, forget resolutions altogether. Forget all of it. Stop worrying about it. And not in a “I’m just going to think good thoughts and wish it all better” kind of way. Let it go and take a cue from Walt Whitman instead:

“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches,

give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy,

devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants,

argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people,

take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men,

go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families,

read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life,

re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book,

dismiss whatever insults your own soul,

and your very flesh shall be a great poem

and have the richest fluency not only in its words

but in the silent lines of its lips and face

and between the lashes of your eyes

and in every motion and joint of your body.”

 

About Kate Bartolotta

Kate Bartolotta is the strongest girl in the world. She is the love child of a pirate and a roller derby queen. She hails from the second star to the right. She doesn't know how to behave with all the apples and ibexes. She doesn't suffer from her eight million freckles, she loves them! Like a rolling stone, Kate gathers no moss. Kate loves kale, being barefoot, Dr. Seuss, singing too loudly, gallivanting, palindromes, blackberries and has far too many books for her own good. When she's not writing, you can find her practicing yoga, running in the woods, playing with her kids, devouring a book, planting dandelions, changing the world and doing her dishes. Kate does not play the accordion. She is a massage therapist, writer and a compassionate friend to all. This year Kate aspires to finally give up on learning to knit and will instead spend that time putting a little bit more of her heart on the page. Connect with Kate on Facebook and Twitter

2,356 views

Appreciate this article? Support indie media!

(We use super-secure PayPal—but don't worry—you don't need an account with PayPal.)

Elephriends - Mindful Affiliates

23 Responses to “Resolutions 2.0”

  1. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Love this!

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
    Join us! Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
    Follow on Twitter

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.
    Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook.

  2. Great take on the resolutions!

  3. Valerie Carruthers says:

    Kate, thank you for this. Resolutions always seem to have failure built right into them and you lazered straight to the core of the matter. The word "resolution" breaks out into re-solution—to solve again or to solve anew. And you've done exactly that. Sharing this.

    Btw, personally it always feels like New Year's is actually the most challenging time to make resolutions. Sure it's a New Year but it's also the dead of winter, the most inward looking time of the year. We want to clear our slate but we hold back because we're seeking comfort as we hibernate in our old familiar ways. So I've moved my resolutions out of New Year's and into the Spring equinox, the time when the daylight has lengthened and everything is blossoming, to give them a better chance. Your awesome advice will be the fertilizer that helps them to flower.

    Whitman was the icing on the cake!

  4. dan says:

    yes on all counts, but could you please make a special resolution (if only just for we who check these things) to not misattribute quotes? http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:Benjamin_Frankl….
    thank you <3

    • Yikes! Thank you! When I followed up on your link, it seems that it's been misattributed to both Franklin and Einstein. I will update to, "it's been said" since it seems to be a truism, even with somewhat mysterious origins.

      • dan says:

        You were certainly not alone in the misattribution, and it is somehow more comforting to think of Einstein saying it. I think there is a resolution in here for me somewhere (reflecting too how my own priorities have shifted over time), but what it might be I don't yet know… :)

  5. [...] nice ideas about new year’s resolutions here. see, i’m not the only one thinking about the grand master plan for [...]

  6. Joe Sparks says:

    To me, to live in the best way, to really be intelligent in the highest sense, is to be aware of what is going on, and to take charge of the situation, to have ideas of what kind of future we want and to take steps to bring it about. This means having goals. This means having aware goals, clear-cut goals, spelled-out goals and specific goals for every area of our influence and interest, and for every epoch of the future. It is best that these goals be flexible, subject to change by intelligent decision but persisted in against all fears and discouragements. It is best that they not be obsessive or compulsive but act instead like magnests or compasses, helping to coordinate and organize our thinking and action.

  7. Maia says:

    I like the quote at the end of the post, some parts of it really ring true. I think it's important to have goals for the new year and for life in general, but yes they should be specific goals and things that you really want to achieve, this gives our lives meaning and direction, otherwise we could just drift through life without achieving what we really hold dear.

  8. [...] realize that the New Year’s train has already left the station and I’m a little late to the party. This is the case because until [...]

  9. [...] probably broken those pesky New Year’s resolutions already (and if not, you’re a better person than I). On Easter Day, resolutions are not echoing [...]

  10. [...] what I’m saying? Any of it taste like your experience? Willing to share your insights, your resolutions, your own methods or discipline of self-care? It’s time for those of us who hold space to allow [...]

  11. [...] when determining a resolution, we get so caught up in all the things we want to change that we lose sight of why we want change [...]

  12. Good advice on all counts! Thanks Joe!

Leave a Reply