I really hesitated opening with: “It’s that time of year again…” but alas here we are and I’m only left with a cliche variation. It is that time of year. New gym memberships surge, thoughtful intentions, best-laid plans, and motivated changemakers are on the horizon. But, if you thought this was a post aimed to tear down the well-intentioned and the well-wishers then you have come to the wrong place.
Despite the fact that many new year’s resolutions will fall by the wayside, it’s still important and valuable to set them. New year, new you? What’s wrong with that?
Setting new year’s resolutions promotes self-reflection and an honest evaluation of what is going well in our lives and what is not. A willingness to look within and commit to positive changes or setting new goals is an admirable quality. It focuses us on positivity and a glass-half-full mentality. This does not mean blindly viewing the world through rose-colored glasses but recognizing that our mindset can greatly impact our experiences.
Remember, that it is easier to tear someone down than it is to build someone up. Beware of becoming the silent bully in your circle that leans toward automatic judgments and negative thoughts. Yes, setting a new year’s resolution might seem silly to you but introspection and purposeful action are some of our least practiced forms of self-care and when practiced regularly can bring our intentions and habits into greater clarity.
Setting new year’s resolutions doesn’t mean radically changing who you are as a person, it means sincerely reflecting on where you are now and where you would like to be. True resolutions create habits of mind and habits of action that bring greater fulfillment to your life.
Setting new year’s resolutions doesn’t mean radically changing who you are as a person, it means sincerely reflecting on where you are now and where you would like to be. True resolutions create habits of mind and habits of action that bring greater fulfillment to your life.Tweet
Setting realistic goals
It’s also important to set goals that are realistic. If you have ever worked in an industry that values reflective practice and employee development (like education), you might be familiar with constructive goal setting systems. As cheesy as it might sound, and as horrible as it might be (especially for those that have to do this as a part of their professional lives) setting SMART goals can also be incredibly valuable when crafting a resolution that you can stick to.
What is a SMART Goal? Basically, it’s an acronym that stands for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based. A resolution that simply says, “I want a hot bod in 2020,” doesn’t meet that criteria so you’re already setting yourself up for failure. Meeting these criteria is important because it means you are more likely to follow through with what you started and establishes benchmarks along the way to celebrate your successes. It’s the little things after all.
I heard once…probably on the internet but maybe at a dinner party, that in order to form a new habit you have to do something 20 days in a row. The anonymous advice-giver followed up by explaining that in order to create a new lifestyle, you have to do something 60 days in a row. I don’t know if that stands up to science but it sure sounds good and having a roadmap makes any goal seem less daunting. These kinds of check-ins also lay the groundwork for you to establish your own roadmap. For example, if you have a really big goal, break it down into smaller parts that ensure long-term success. You can also read about Sofia’s new year resolutions here.
So with all of that in mind, what’s my goal for the new year? My big idea: to read more. I have thought about this for quite some time and am using my tools to create a roadmap so that I can actually create both, a new habit of mind and action.
It’s really all Netflix’s fault (notice my lack of personal accountability). Before Netflix offered streaming services I read all of the time (even with all of my other commitments I probably managed at least three books a month). Instead of staying up late to watch my shows, I stayed up late saying to myself, “okay, but this is really the last chapter and then I am going to bed.”
Don’t get me wrong. I love Netflix (obviously). What I don’t love is that I don’t read anymore (or at least like I used to) and that my evening habit consists of zoning out in front of my TV. The great irony in all of it is that the shows I really love are all based on books anyway. Gah! I never would have watched something without reading the book first and now I simply can’t be bothered.
Why reading? When you read something your brain is active in a way that your brain is not when simply watching something. You are forced to process and imagine a variety of inputs in a different way that actually grows your brain and your worldview.
Now, to make my resolution SMART. I plan to start with something I feel that I can actually do given my commitments and lifestyle at this stage in my life. I will read one book a month for a total of at least 12 books in 2020. In order to do this, I will substitute my Netflix time with a new habit. But wait, there’s more! Instead of cutting out Netflix altogether (because then I would be less likely to fulfill my resolution), I will plan out Netflix days versus reading days. I also already have my first three books lined up so that I am not left scrambling for new material once I’ve completed my first benchmark.
For my first book, I will be reading Philippa Gregory’s, Tidelands. I have always been a big fan of hers and to date have read pretty much everything she has produced. But, as you can see, in the time I have been slacking she’s been writing away and I’ve been missing out. Gregory does an outstanding job of bringing history to life. Her novels are well researched and both inform and captivate readers.
Now that I have shared some tips and my own resolution, I have inadvertently added a third layer to the process: accountability. Stay tuned for my review of Tidelands and if you’ve already read it, no spoilers!
Want to read it too?
What will you do in 2020?