The New Year has me thinking about resolutions. This year I set a very simple but not so easily achievable resolution. I set myself the goal of finding happiness in whatever situation I find myself at a given moment. Since I set that resolution, I’ve felt lighter and more positive, so maybe the simple reminder to find happiness is enough to create a powerful mood change. The question is, for how long will I keep my resolution?
Most people have abandoned their New Year’s resolution by February.
They interpret a set-back as failure and quit, waiting for next January to begin again. Yet why do we need some kind of marker to make change in our lives? It takes multiple attempts for most smokers to quit. Many people go through multiple diets before they find the right one. Learning a new habit takes time. And doing something incorrectly teaches us more about how to do it correctly. So perhaps bumps in the path are inevitable.
My thought is, maybe how we handle February has a lot to do with whether or not we will achieve our New Year’s goals. February should be a month of evaluation. During this month we can look at what we did to achieve our goal and access what worked and what didn’t. For instance, if you abandon your diet by February, you can evaluate what aspects of the diet were working and what aspects didn’t serve you. That way you can start a new diet in February and use this information to do it BETTER.
People feel like they need some major marker to make a life change.
We start things on the first day of the year, the first day of a week or at the beginning of the day. There is nothing that says that if you eat a bag of Oreos in the morning that you can’t redeem yourself by eating well for the rest of the day. But many people will opt to binge for the day and re-start their healthy eating plan on the next day. This only makes sense emotionally since calories don’t know what day it is.
My point is, just because you haven’t achieved your New Year’s resolution by February doesn’t mean you have failed. You don’t need a major marker to make change and success is rarely achieved by traversing a straight line. This year I’m making a commitment to check in with myself every few weeks. I will ask myself what I’ve done recently to achieve my goal of finding happiness, and what I could have done better. That way my resolution doesn’t get away from me. And if I have a few bad weeks, I’ll just pick myself up and start again.
Because you can reinforce a positive habit at any time.
Whether it is the end of the day, the middle of the month, the end of the year or any other blasé, normal, non-momentous moment. Your habits don’t know what day it is. They are willing to change anytime you are ready.
Laurie Hurley says
That sounds like a good plan, Erica. I call my resolutions “intentions” because I am more apt to accomplish them. I also took a great course the very end of December (online) by Michael Hyatt about goal-setting. It really helped me focus and write down my intentions and goals. I think making goals realistic is important and having an accountability partner also helps. When we put too much pressure on ourselves and then get angry that we “broke a rule” we tend to just chuck the whole goal! This year I hope will be different. I like your resolution of seeking happiness in every situation. That is not an easy one!
Hi Laurie. That is such a good idea to take a course on goal setting. I think most of us can use a little help with that! Having an accountability partner is another good one. I hope you follow through with all your intentions this year! 🙂
Donna Janke says
Great approach. If what we want to do or change was important enough to become a New Year’s Resolution, we should not give up when we experience setbacks. I have issues with New Year’s Resolutions because we tend to make a lofty resolution and expect to execute perfectly. Re-evaluating and re=planning on a monthly basis makes sense to me. Yours is a great resolution, by the way.
Thanks Donna! Yes, I too tend to have issues with resolutions for that same reason. You are right that if it is important enough to make it a resolution, we shouldn’t give up that easily. It is true that it is important for us to be realistic with our goals and not have this unrealistic idea that everything will just be easily perfect!
Michele Harvey says
Like Laurie, I create conscious intentions rather than resolutions. I also check in with myself throughout the day to see whether or not I am living according to the intention I’ve set. I think many of us are procrastinators which is why we wait until the 1st of the year, the 1st of the week, or tomorrow.
Hi Laurie. I really like the concept of conscious intention. Yes, and many of us are procrastinators. It is so easy to think that we will be ready to do things at a future date, as long as we don’t have to do them right now.
I do not set New Years Resolutions. I set goals which I review throughout the year as you have suggested.
I agree that even if one falls off the bandwagon (we are only human after all!) that you can just jump back on.
No more excuses!
One of the reasons people fail to keep their resolutions is because for most of them it’s like wishing on a star. They make the resolution but then don’t make the necessary changes to succeed. I like your approach, make the resolution and evaluate every small successful step. That will motivate them to carry on. I also like the idea of conscious intentions like Laurie and Michele – seems to have more push behind it somehow.
I agree Lenie. Best not to set your expectations too high and set more realistic goals that you are prepared to go after. That seems like a good plan to me!
Jacqueline Gum (Jacquie) says
This sounds like a stellar plan! But I think one needs to start with realistic resolutions, yes? To resolve to do something that is not in your character is setting oneself up for failure. But I personally love your resolution…to find happiness in whatever situation your find yourself in. It could be a tough one, but suspect it can keep one on their toes and almost force re-evaluation. That’s cool!
I know! I’m totally realistic about my resolution. There is no way I’m going to be happy all the time. I just want to make an effort to turn myself around and find the happiness when I’m going into a slump! Happy New Year to you!
Kire Sdyor says
Erica, that’s why February is such as short month. So we don’t have as many days feeling poorly about giving up on our resolutions until next year. Great post. Thanks.
Very funny Kire! I’m certain there is some truth to that!
Ken Dowell says
Maybe instead of making New Year’s resolutions we should make May Day resolutions. When you think of it a New Year’s resolution involves committing to change your behavior at a time when you are heading into the middle of winter. It’s cold, sometimes getting around can be difficult and it’s dark before dinnertime. If you make your resolution on May 1, summer is right around the corner, the weather keeps getting better, the days keep getting longer and you’re likely preparing for a summer trip.
Haha! I love the idea of May day resolutions! I totally don’t get why a resolution has to be at the beginning of the year. It isn’t very cold where I live, but I think we all feel an energy lift towards summer!
After reading this post I am thinking that each day we must plan something and try to achieve and we must not wait for the start of the year to make some big resolutions that we can not accomplish. If the resolutions are realistic and simple, it is easy to stick to them. Most on the time we make such resolution that is actually unrealistic so we are done with it by Feb.
You are right that it is not necessary to start from new year, we can start any good habit at any time.
I hope that you will be successful after the year and carry your resolution throughout the year.
All the best and Happy new year.
I so agree with you. I often want to rebel against New Year’s resolutions. We should be constantly striving to go after what we want. Yes, it seems to me that realistic and simple is the way to go. Happy New Year to you as well!
Eve Koivula says
I keep telling myself, that today is as “next Monday” as it gets and the best day to start, because I’m already (somewhat) on fire about whatever it is I’m planning to go through.
Years ago I also decided to make just one resolution every year and it’s that I won’t start smoking again. It took me several attempts to quit, and I really really REALLY don’t want to go through that again.
So far so good (10+ years and counting…)
Happy New Year!
I love that Eve! I’m really passionate about people not giving up on quitting smoking. I’ve never been a smoker, but I saw my mother go through trying to quit so I have an appreciation of how hard that is. 10+ years is really impressive! Keep at it and I have faith that you have the habit kicked!
pamela chollet says
I like your resolution Erica. I think people mistake a wish for something as a resolution. A, “resolution” means making a determination about an action., a wish is a desire. Most people want to be thinner, stop smoking or exercise more, but they have no action plan. Making a change in lifestyle is difficult, and you’re right we all need to be kinder with ourselves when we miss the mark and not berate and label ourselves as a failure.
I love Pamela how you describe the difference between a resolution and a wish. I think a lot of resolutions start as wishes, but I guess it is up to us to make a plan to put them into action. And yes, being kind to ourselves is really vital which we often forget when we fail.
Marquita Herald says
Well said Erika! Personally I have never been a fan of NY resolutions because they tend to be “shoulds” rather than meaningful goals. Each year I set my new goals based on continuous growth from the previous year and all heading me in the direction to intentionally create the life I want for myself. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with setting BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goals)because that’s the way we grow out of our comfort zone. That said, there’s a big difference between planning to succeed and hoping for the best. Thanks for the inspiration!
Marquita, I absolutely love the term BHAG goals! That is brilliant! I like how you mention continuous growth. That is so important. Thank you for commenting and happy New Year!
Yes, an excellent plan of attack Erica. I have used this with the gym whenever I quit and go back. I don’t need the year to start all over again; just a day. Re-evaluation of life’s milestones or attempted milestones is a great way to approach life and certainly takes some of the pressure off.
Good for you Tim! You are ahead of a lot of people. I have also had bumps in the rode with going to the gym. I find that when that happens, I’ve become uninspired and I need to change things up or find a way to by inspired. Happy New Year!
Beth Niebuhr says
I really like your plan. A great goal but also the flexibility to realize that it won’t always be possible or at least likely.
Hi Beth. I like your point about being flexible. It is true that things don’t always go as you plan.
Krystle Cook says
I don’t think if I hadn’t achieved my New Year’s resolution by February I’d give up. There’s SO many more months after that. I think being consistent is the key and just ticking away at it.
You have a really good attitude Krystle. I’m sure that makes you successful at a lot of what you do!
Susan Cooper says
Love the plan! being realistic is what it’s all about for me, otherwise I am setting myself up for failure. But I do love your resolution. Finding happiness in any situation is a great endeavor for sure. It would take resolve and focus but oh the rewards. I’m here to cheer you on. 🙂
Yes Susan, it is definitely no good to set yourself for failure though I will say I’ve done it in years gone by. I’m glad you’ve found parameters that work for you and hope you achieve whatever your looking for in 2015!
RoseMary Griffith says
Quite a valid way to approach a new year–anytime. February is the longest winter month for who knows what reason. So taking time to assess all goals started before that is a good task for staying happily on track.