Thursday, January 3, 2013

Resolution Aid

Happy (belated) New Year! It's January 3rd. How many of you have given up on your resolutions already?

If you have, don't worry. You may need to accept that your resolution didn't fit your true wants, needs or lifestyle. In that case, you can either let it go and enjoy your life as it always was, or revise your resolution so it's a better fit.

Let's say that you chose the most common resolution, which is to exercise more. You decided to commit yourself to going to the gym every day, no excuses. So you got up on January first, fired up and ready to go. But it was a holiday, so the gym had short hours- you couldn't possibly fit in a good workout. Then on the second, you really meant to go, but it was a long day back at work and you really needed the evening to recover. And on the third (today)- well, it was just too cold. (Which is true, here in New York.) Three days in, and you've already failed. Or have you?

You haven't failed, exactly. What you did was set yourself up so there was no possibility for success. You gave yourself no wiggle room, no easing into it. It's a very rare person who can either quit something cold turkey or start something full force and not give up. Most of us are not wired that way. So let's look at that original resolution and see what you could have done- could still do- differently.

Resolution: I will go to the gym every day. 

First question: Does this resolution fit your true wants?

Answer: Probably not. If you were really excited about spending that much time at the gym, you would likely be spending at least some time there already. Additionally, though saying "every day" seems like it would commit you to a schedule, it's really too vague to be helpful. What time will you go? Will the same time work for you on Mondays? Thursdays? The weekend? It's too easy to miss a day when you're committed to every day. It's too easy to put it off til tomorrow. But then tomorrow you put it off again, and eventually, you're not going at all.

Amendment to the resolution: I will schedule gym time a certain number of days per week, treating the scheduled time like an appointment with myself.

Second question: Does this resolution fit your true needs?

Answer: Definitely not. No one, not even paid athletes, exercises every day. It's not good for you. If you don't give yourself at least one or two days of rest per week, your muscles will never be able to recover. Those recovery days are actually when your body creates more muscle and dissolves more fat. It would be completely counterproductive to work out every day.

Amendment to the resolution: I will schedule gym time 3-5 times per week with rest days every day or two, treating the scheduled time like an appointment with myself.

Third question: Does this resolution fit your lifestyle?
Answer: Only you can answer that one. Is the gym your only option? Do you like working out indoors or outdoors? A combination of the two? Do you like distractions, such as movies or music? Do you like working out with other people or alone? Thinking about those questions will help you figure out how you really want to accomplish the root of the goal, which is to get more exercise than you did last year. If you find something active that you love to do, that passion will keep you doing it far longer than simply listening to the nagging voice that says you have to exercise.

Amendment to the resolution: I will schedule exercise time 3-5 times per week with rest days every day or two, treating the scheduled time like an appointment with myself. I will try different forms of exercise until I figure out what I like best, and then I will be able to make a more passionate commitment to those activities.

Did this example help you make a more reasonable resolution? If it did, hooray! If it didn't, don't worry too much. New Year's Day isn't some magical time when all people make life changes for the better. Yes, it's nice to have a clean slate, and that sometimes helps people kick-start reasonable resolutions that they've already committed to with their heads and hearts. But unless you're already feeling the drive to change your life, making a list of resolutions on January first isn't going to accomplish anything long-term. On the flip side of that, remember that you can make a resolution any time you want. You just need to have a goal in mind and a kindling of passion, and make sure the resolution fits the requirements above. Remember to ask yourself if it fits your wants, needs and lifestyle. If it doesn't, it's the resolution that needs tweaking, not you!

Here are my resolutions for 2013:

1. Go through several drafts of my novel by editing/writing while my son is nursing or sleeping; show it to peer editors; sign up for mentorship program at Gotham Writer's Workshop; start process to publication. My dream is to be a published author in 2013!
2. Experiment with magazine writing by composing 5 query letters per month of varying topics and sending each to 4-5 periodicals with varying circulations.
3. Maintain current schedule of exercising (4-5 times per week) and blogging (about 7 times per month).
4. Help my husband and me eat healthier by cutting up salad vegetables every Sunday for easy salad making, mixing and packaging trail mix, and baking healthy breakfast bars.
5. Learn how to make 10-12 cheap, easy, healthy dinners that we both enjoy.
6. Take better care of my teeth by flossing and using fluoride rinse every night. (This will be the hardest to accomplish, as I hate anything to do with teeth!)

I feel this list is accomplishable. There are long-term projects and short-term goals, and a few of them take only minutes per day or per week. I also have two more resolutions that I haven't yet made specific enough to fit my three qualifications above. They are:

1. Read more, watch TV less
2. Spend much less time on my iPhone

Basically, I want to divide myself from technology more in 2013. But that's going to be a tough habit to break, especially the iPhone. I'm considering setting up a challenge where I don't use my iPhone for anything but texts and calls for a whole week. I could blog about it every day and let you know how I'm doing. Is anyone interested in reading about that?

This is a long post, but I enjoyed writing it! I wish health, happiness and life's great blessings upon all of you in 2013.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this. My current status of my resolutions is that I need to make them! I'm feeling pretty lost right now and goal-less and I have some vague ideas but nothing concrete. I'll be coming back to this post when I have time to sit down and really figure out what I want to do this year. (ps-your 'vague' goals at the end are the same as mine, especially the less TV one!)