Ah! New year’s resolutions! Most resolutions fade into the back-ground no later than March (or mid January).
By writing down your goals with associated action items, you are much more likely to follow through on them. Also, by adopting the mindset of “Change is a process that happens over a lifetime,” you allow yourself the freedom to succeed over time, as opposed to the idea that if you fail to get to the gym four times in one week, that you should simply scrap the whole plan!
There is evidence to suggest that humans often fail at making changes — even changes that we want — because we don’t like looking at our shortcomings. So, we avoid looking them in the eye when they happen, which leads to a lack of awareness of the problem, which leads to difficulty in recognizing the old patterns when they are happening, which leads to our inability to interrupt the very pat-tern we are trying to change. Deep breath.
In order to change our patterns of behavior, we need to purposefully notice our old patterns and make a conscious decision to change them, regardless of how uncomfortable that makes us feel.
Set yourself up for success by designing a plan with realistic goals that can act as a compass for your life, for the coming year and beyond. This can be an individual plan, a couple’s plan, or an entire family plan. It can be simple or complex. It is a living document that can evolve with you and your family over time.
First, decide on areas which you would like to be purposeful: finances, marriage/partnership, parenting, health/fittness/self care, activism, friendships, family, etc.
Next, make statements/goals/action items under each chosen category.
I want to live within my means and save for the kids’ college as well as a vacation this year.
1. I will pay the credit card off each month.
2. I will put $100 a month into college savings.
3. I will put $100 a month into a savings account marked for vacation.
I want a healthy, happy, and supportive relationship. I want to enjoy time with, and feel connected to, my partner.
1. We will schedule 1 hour a week to spend together with these rules in place: no talking about kids, work, finances, to-do lists, scheduling, or any other mundane household/family obligations. We can talk about: current events, dreams/hopes/aspirations/fantasies, books we have read, etc. This time can be at home or out.
2. I will make a point, each day, to notice and appreciate verbally, things my partner does that add to my life, our family, and the overall world.
3. I will do something everyday that I know will make my partner’s life more enjoyable or less stressful.
I want to be a patient, warm, empathetic, connected parent. I want to enjoy time with my children. I want to provide my children with the leadership they need to be successful, happy people.
1. When I feel frustrated, I will take a deep breath and remember that they are learning, that their brains are still forming, and that I am more capable than they are of managing my emotions. I will remember that I am showing them how to manage their emotions by managing mine.
2. I will remember to offer empathy first before setting limits or offering problem solving logic.
3. I will offer many hugs and kisses, back rubs, eye contact, etc. with a warm and inviting body, face, and voice.
4. I will set clear and consistent limits with great kindness, warmth, and firmness so they can learn that the world is a safe place where they can explore, make mistakes, and grow.
5. I will make a point of putting my phone and other electronic devices away while spending connected time with my children. This will show them that they are more important than anything in the outside world.
I want to have both emotional and physical energy for living life. I want to exercise regularly, maintain (or achieve) a healthy weight, feel comfortable in my clothes, feel strong, feel comfortable in my skin, eat in a way that fuels my body, and overall, take care of myself as I would take care of someone else.
1. I will exercise at least 3 times a week. I will schedule time in my calendar each week for this exercise in order to make it a habit.
2. I will seek exercise that is both effective and enjoyable so that I will enjoy the time I spend and look forward to it.
3. When my exercise routine becomes boring or not enjoyable, I will seek new activities to maintain my interest and excitement.
4. I will plan meals ahead of time and shop with a list to ensure healthy meals are available and easy to prepare.
I will care for the environment by making choices about products and actions that care for the earth. I will find ways to add to my local community.
1. I will buy or make environmentally friendly cleaning/health/beauty products.
2. I will buy products with as little packaging as possible.
3. I will make an effort to use locally produced products whenever possible.
4. I will offer to help my elderly neighbor clean up her yard/take out her garbage/etc. at least once per month.
5. I will volunteer at the food bank 3 times this year.
I will invest in my friendships.
1. I will schedule time with a friend once a week.
2. I will be more of a listener than a talker.
3. I will reach out in person instead of just electronically.
4. I will tell my friends how much I appreciate them and why.
The key to success: review this list regularly — weekly is ideal. Make it a living document. Truly use it as a compass, to keep you on track. Mindful living is a choice, a decision you make each day. Choose health and happiness by taking charge of your day to day living!