By WMM Contributor: Melissa Feldmeyer
How to Make Resolutions…. and Keep Them….
We’re already about a week into the New Year. Which means some of us have made New Year’s resolutions, broken them, and made new ones or just decided 2020 will be our year to make life changes…. I know there are many people out there very skeptical of New Year’s resolutions. But for as generally skeptical of a person as I am, this is not one of those areas I am skeptical of. I think it’s great that we strive for making ourselves better. And if it takes the change of a year to motivate us to make the changes we want to see in our lives, so be it. But I don’t like to call them “New Year’s” resolutions. Because I feel like it limits the lens we view them through. Sure the calendar changed from 2018 to 2019, but the calendar changes every single day of the year- every day can be a fresh start and new opportunity to take the first steps in making the changes you want to see in your life if it is truly something you want and ready to make happen. You don’t NEED the change of the year to make the change in your life. That sounds like some Pinterest motivation quote- but it doesn’t make it less true. Just picture it on one of those letter boards….
I think this concept and pressure of a “new year, new” you can be particularly challenging for us working moms because most resolutions and multiple resolutions require the one commodity we are always short on….. time. Always our nemesis. And it will always be a very good and valid excuse for not doing what we want if we let it.
For all the things I spectacularly fail at on a regular basis- I am actually pretty decent with my resolutions (except that one where I said I was going to cut down on chocolate and my coffee intake…. because come on… a mom needs to stay alive). And there are a few reasons that they work for me….
- Always be resolutin’
- Make a plan
- Have a buddy
- Set deadlines
- If at first you don’t succeed, try try again.
- Always be resolutin’
There are about 1,000 things in my life I’d like to make adjustments on. But what often leads to us giving up is that we decide we are going to completely change everything we’re unsatisfied with at the EXACT SAME TIME. We’re going to go from never exercising to running a mile every day, from the only green in our diet being gummy bears to a vegan lifestyle. We are creatures of habit and habits take a looooong time to change. And they definitely don’t go easier on you and make themselves easier to break because it’s the start of a new year. So, sure, pick 2 or 3 resolutions- but roll them out over the course of the whole year. Instead of saying “Starting January 1st, 2019 I am going to cut sugar out of my diet, learn French, and work out more” if you shift to “By the end of 2019 I am going to……” you set yourself up for a more realistic chance at success. It’s kind of like juggling. If someone throws three balls at you all at once, you’ll probably drop them. If you get thrown one at a time and don’t take the next until you’re comfortable with ones you have- a little more manageable.
2. Make a plan
So exactly HOW are you going to make all of these great and wonderful changes in your life? Without a plan, a resolution is just a nice idea. A thought. A wish. I always think of Michael Scott on The Office when he’s having money problems and yells “I declare bankruptcy!” His coworkers have to explain you can’t just yell the words, you actually have to do things to make it happen. Same goes here.
I am the Queen of lists and writing things down- I find it makes it more real. Take your resolution- sit down, and make a list of steps and plan out you’ll need to take in order to make this resolution happen.
We’re moms… half or more of our lives involve planning- we can do this!
3. Have a buddy
This might be an area where having kids and a family can make things a little easier! There is no reason resolutions have to be a solitary endeavor (because come on, going to the bathroom isn’t a solitary endeavor these days). Your kids can join you as you learn a new language, commit to 30 minutes a day of physical activity, incorporate healthier eating into your life and purge your house of items you no longer need. Making it a team effort can help you stay accountable- to yourself and the other members of your team, making it more likely that you’ll follow through. If you’re a people pleaser like me, not doing something you told someone you were going to do is a far worse feeling that eating kale for lunch every day. But not that much worse. But still worse enough to try a little harder than if you were only accountable to the voice in your head that can be so good at convincing now you to find a way out of doing those things that future you wants now you to do today but now you wants future you to do later.
This one goes along with the slow roll out and making a plan. Some resolutions are going to take the full year to make fully happen, or several years to accomplish. But as you’re creating your plan on how to make your resolutions happen, attach dates to them. Put the dates on the calendar. If you are currently eating a not so healthy diet and want to turn that around- give each of your steps a deadline- Step 1- Research healthy meal and snack options- by January 5th. Step 2- Stop drinking soda, replace with drinking water with lemon- by January 15th. Step 3- Replace your daily bagel breakfast with healthier alternatives- oatmeal/ green smoothie/egg white omelet- by February 1st. Step 3- Replace afternoon Cheetos break with afternoon hummus and carrots break- by February 16th…… and so on. By 1- breaking your big life changes into tiny manageable bites and 2- Making a plan that sets deadlines gives you a little bread crumb trail (or banana chip trail if you’re cutting out carbs) to follow along your path to success.
5. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
If you read my blog post on self-care, you’ve seen this one before. Because I am a firm believer that we’re all going fail sometime at something and sometimes several times. Especially as mothers and employees and partners trying to do our very best at 10,000 things a day. Failure is a part of success, it’s how we learn what we should do next and what we should not do again. But so often when we fail, we take it personally. As a sign that we’re not good enough or meant for what we were trying for and so we stop trying all together. Be gentle with yourself, remember that calendar is going to change to a new day tomorrow, gather up the pieces and the lessons of what your failed attempt or attempts have taught you and try again- a little smarter than last time.
I’ve always loved the quote “Bad news: time flies; good news: you’re the pilot.” Whatever direction you’re flying off to in 2019, I hope that you keep in mind, as we so often tell our children but forget to remind ourselves, you really can do whatever you set your mind to. Wishing you all the strength, laughter, patience and determination you’ll need to get you through 2019. Before you know it we’ll be looking back and reflecting on it, and looking ahead to 2020 (which sounds so oddly futuristic, right?). I hope now you does something this year that future you (and futuristic 2020 you) will thank now you for!