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A better method of improving than making resolutions

I got up this morning with the cheerful plan of putting away the Christmas decorations, organizing them all in the garage and cleaning my house.  It felt so good when it was all done, and although I miss the Nativity pieces around my home, reminding us of Christ, I enjoy the feeling of organization and cleanliness that followed.  I’m sure this clean slate feeling and the fact that it is a brand new year is the reason “resolutions” are the next logical thought.

I got so excited I searched the internet for help.  “How to clean your whole house in one hour.” “How to organize your office to work more efficiently.” “Finally get your finances under control.” “Top tips for your new best body.” “How can I go from couch to 10k?” “Start the new year with intentional mothering.”   The help is endless and the overwhelm starts to set in right…. NOW!

Resolutions are logical and seem like such a good idea. Until they suddenly become my worst enemy. Here are the reasons why they don’t work for me, and why I need a change of plan.

  1. A resolution is a resolve to change, and change rarely happens overnight.  But when I make a new year’s resolution, that is exactly what I expect to happen.  Over night from December 31st to January 1st, I expect my life to change magically to “be better at” all the things that I struggle with.
  2. It becomes overwhelming. My life is busy enough. To suddenly have a long list of more things to add to my plate all at once is just too much to even think about.
  3. Real life comes back and my “resolve” gives way to other demands. I really do want to do these new “good” things in my resolutions, but real-life demands often mean that there may legitimately not be enough time in each day for everything.
  4. When I can’t make the desired changes quickly enough, I quit and feel like a failure. No one should feel like a failure, especially if they are trying to make improvements in their lives, but that “failure” bug just keeps biting me.

So this year I have decided that I am done with New Year’s resolutions…

This year I am making New Year’s Recognitions…. What is a “Recognition” you may ask? This is where I narrow down what I really want for my life.  There are a lot of thoughts that float around in my head about how I might live a little differently, if only…. I had more time, more knowledge, more desire.  Well, they are all just thoughts until I take the time to write them down and come to really recognize what is most important to me. Once I know what I really want for my life, I can start making goals. (See this post for goal planning.)

Here are some examples of my “Recognitions”

  1. I want to be a better friend
  2. I want to be physically stronger
  3. I want a home where friends and family feel comfortable to come spend time with me
  4. I want to enjoy the time I have with my children while they are young

Can you see how these are not really goals, and they are not resolutions?  They are a recognition (or a declaration) of what is important to me and what I want personally for my life. From these recognitions I can begin to make goals that are more meaningful and have a better chance for success.

We all have something we want to change about ourselves, and sometimes it can be daunting, and sometimes it is a change that will take a lot of time, maybe more than we would like.  By keeping in mind what we really want for ourselves, the changing process becomes more manageable. It becomes a matter of doing what I “want to do” and less what I “have to do.”

I’m looking forward to writing down what I want to do, as I start my goal setting process for the year.  I don’t want to set goals based on what I “should” be doing, or what other people are doing, or even what other people think I should do.  I am learning to be true to myself and more intentional with my goal setting by taking the time to first come to the “recognition” of what I really want for my life,

I truly believe that I am setting myself up for more success on the road to making the progress I want.

Doesn’t that sound better than simply “resolving” to make change?

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1 Comment

  1. Insightful and thought provoking. Thank you for sharing this.

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