I don’t make New Year’s resolutions.
I decided some time ago that it wasn’t a good practice for a recovering perfectionist. Like most people, I rarely kept them past March of the New Year. And then my inner critic would rise up and chastise me. But, I do like the idea of fresh starts and self-improvement. So instead of giving up the resolution thing altogether, I’ve made some tweaks to this practice.
First, I look back at the previous year and ask myself: what worked and what didn’t? I consider different aspects of my daily life: financial, relationships, teaching, writing, health, organization, happiness. Then I make revisions–not resolutions. I usually frame them this way: Instead of (fill what wasn’t working, I will try (fill in the blank with a revision).
For example, I have a lot of trouble turning off my laptop before bedtime. I know it disrupts my sleep, something I can’t afford to skimp on. Yet I find it hard to stop. My excuse is that I need to finish “one more thing” or read “one more article” or “respond to an email” before bed. Face it–the internet is addicting.
Instead of resolving never to use my laptop before bedtime , I’ve chosen four days of the week when I will try not to open my laptop after 8:00 pm. Notice I said, try not to? Yes, that may sound non-committal, but when you tell yourself you are NOT going to ever do _______, it is very likely that you will.
So I cut myself some slack. I try out a new behavior that will improve the quality of my everyday life.
Revisions, as opposed to resolutions, tend to be more specific. I’ll put a reminder on my calendar to call my brother every other Sunday so we stay in touch. Research shows that when you make a specific goal with specific steps, you are more likely to reach it. That’s good news for me.
What didn’t work in 2012.
1. Trying to enter every writing contest I possibly can.
Revision: I will be more selective in the contests I enter and Limit myself to entering one contest every 8 weeks.
2. Giving up my gym membership.
Revision: I will sign-up for a weekly yoga or dance class.
3. Taking on too many outside commitments. (This happens every year. I have never succeeded in changing this behavior!)
Revision: I will consult with my family before accepting more commitments.
Get the idea?
If you try revisions this year, please let me know how you did.
If you are committed to making your resolutions–and keeping them, check out Gretchen Rubin’s helpful blog post on the Happiness Project.
Do you make resolutions? If so, how do you get them to stick?