It’s time for everyone’s favorite part of the year, New Year’s resolutions. It’s the time of the year to reevaluate your life. Look back at how the last year went, and look forward to a future better you. In reality, most people stop working on their resolutions in less than a month. This can create feelings of failure and create a vicious cycle that can make self-motivation even more difficult. The classic New Year’s resolutions model can be very difficult to stick with. I know how disheartening it can be to feel incapable of doing something to better yourself. A few years back I switched to a new system that I think works significantly better, Monthly Resolutions.
Monthly resolutions have helped me be more successful, and It allows me to be more ambitious with my resolutions than I otherwise could have been. My 2018 list is below:
January - Minimalist Challenge
February - Spend Free Month
March -Caffeine Free Month
April - Vegetarian Month
May - Gratitude Journal
June - Daily Summer Challenge Point
July - Impermanence Project
August - Yoga Challenge
September - Sugar Free Month
October - Photo a day
November - NaNoWriMo
December - Media Advent
At the end of every month I do a monthly review. I reflect on how well the challenge went, what I learned, and what I’d do differently in the future. I also go over the next months challenge and what I’m most excited about. This monthly review can be in a journal, on Facebook, or where ever you want.
What I like about the Monthly Resolutions is I have a visible end date. With a classic resolution, there’s no end in sight. Nebulous goals like “be in shape”, or “read more” are impossible to achieve, so you get discouraged and stop. If I resolve to do something that it turns out I just hate, I can call it a wash when the end arrives. For example, one month I decided to practice my flute every day. I wanted to have more music back into my life. It turns out that I hate playing the flute. There’s a reason I don’t practice. Every day was a chore. And at the end of the 30 days I decided I didn’t need to practice anymore. Playing the flute didn’t bring more music to my life, it just made me unhappy. I decided I didn’t need to practice anymore and moved on. And that’s the real beauty of a Monthly Resolution, you accomplish your goal and then get to decide if this is something that actually brings value to your life.
The most import part is making good resolutions that you can keep for a month at a time. That does not mean easy, just possible. Below is my list of what makes good resolutions to help you create your monthly resolution list for this next year:
Make sure your resolution is focused. Often people start with something grand and undefinable. “Get Healthy”. This isn’t concrete goal and that makes it a struggle to accomplish it. Resolutions should be defined by specific activities for specific duration. “Exercise 30 minutes every day” or “Eat a vegetable with every meal”. These are measurable and trackable. And that makes it easier to succeed.
2. Start Small
Small changes are easier to maintain and therefore more likely to be successful. Additionally, it takes about 30 days to make a habit. Though this isn’t entirely true for all habits it’s a good rule of thumb for simple habits, like drinking a glass of water every morning after you wake up. By setting small, realistic resolutions, you are more likely to make lasting lifestyle changes.
3. Get Help
Humans are social creatures. Finding a buddy or participating in a social media group where you can get encouragement and praise is a key to success. Maybe you walk 3 days a week with a coworker. Maybe you just join a Facebook group where everyone posts their exercise for the day. Or maybe your partner encourages you to sit and meditate when you just don’t feel like it. Whatever social dynamic works for you, it can really help improve your success.
4. Make it Positive
Often times resolutions are negative, “Quit smoking” or “No Sugar”, and there’s nothing wrong with having a few negative resolutions in your year. But I recommend that you make some of the resolutions positive things. Add something into your life. Write in a gratitude journal every day or drink a glass of water with every meal. When you look at your list you shouldn’t feel like it is too negative. That negativity will drag you down and turn the year into a drag. Make sure you have exciting things you want to add.
5. Do a Project
Don’t get too caught up in resolutions that are “daily” or “every meal” or similar. Add in a few resolutions that are a bigger project or event you’ve been meaning to do. Do you need to tackle the garage? Dedicate a month to do it. Do you have a large art project that you’ve been thinking about? Dedicate a month to it. Do you have a big event coming up, like a wedding? Dedicate a month to do it.
I hope this post has been helpful for setting realistic and meaningful New Year’s Resolutions. What are some of your resolutions?