I’ve been a fan of New Year’s Resolutions for as long as I can remember. There is something refreshing about reflection on past choices and ambition for something better culminating in a new outlook. the New Year, New Me was built for people with my wavering optimism. Much to my chagrin, it often leads me with the same results when the enthusiasm wears off.
In the past, I’ve been guilty of keeping some resolutions and breaking others. The ugly details generally include weight loss and bad habits I should have abandoned. As I’ve gotten older and a touch wiser I’ve come to realize that resolutions like any tool are only as effective as the user’s ability. If I was going to keep a resolution – really stick to it – then I had to edit the way I was approaching these opportunistic rebirths.
It took some time to come up with my resolution this year. Since my goals are specific to certain sections of my life, my resolution must be an umbrella. It must cover everything that I hope to accomplish and still leave room for more. So, I don’t say I’m going to lose ten pounds by June. Instead, I say I will have revamped my approach to healthy living in 2017. The process is the exact opposite of my goal setting method, but more on that here.
Having spent most of my life winging resolutions because of course. I’ve noticed having a more definable way of picking them has been the remedy for my inconsistent success. Of course it would be, success is measured in consistency and consistency is contagious. It is not a far leap from successful resolution to reached goals. All you have to do is the work, and trust the process. Here are the five ways I determine my New Year’s resolution. Use them how you will or not at all, just be sure to leave me a comment on your resolution thoughts!
Rule 1: No Small Potatoes.
Like I said before, I had to stop thinking of my resolutions like goals. Instead of making them unnecessarily specific, I had to broaden their reach. The trick is in the language.
e.g. lose ten pounds vs. revamp healthy living approach
In the first portion of the example, the language emphasis is on the number of pounds. In my process, that makes it a goal. In the second portion , the emphasis is on healthy living. For some, these translate into the same thing. For me, one is about weight and the other is about quality of life. Quality of life is greater than weight.
Rule 2: Broad is not Vague
It is critical that in broadening your resolution it doesn’t become so thin that the goals it covers are barely encompassed. Your resolution should remind you of what your goals for the year are and flexibly address them.
i.e. I will be more mysterious on social media vs. I will be more protective of my private life on social media.
Saying you would be more mysterious does include privacy. However, mystery could be anything. I could be a thinly veiled comment toward an enemy or an elaborate lie that hides true intentions. Privacy carries very specific connotations. Yet, it covers a large area. Privacy could relate just as much to photo sharing as it does to beliefs and ideals. Privacy is a better choice in language for a resolution than mystery, because it addresses your concerns and has a clear interpretation attached to it.
Rule 3: Connectivity is key
Your resolution cannot be an umbrella if the goals you have don’t fit under it. Your goals can cover many factions of your life, but the umbrella method requires a thin thread or theme that connects all of them. Think of it like this. If you tried to use your umbrella to cover your car and yourself at the same time it will undoubtedly leave you wet. So, your goals should have something in common that can be summed up and covered by your resolution.
i.e. My 2012 resolution was no regrets. Sampling of my 2012 goals were to explore different writing styles in business, say yes to more social invitations in my personal life, and to exorcise the shame I carried from past poor choices.
The theme for 2012 was to make my decisions knowing there would be risk and to not regret the outcome. It didn’t matter whether the outcome was good or bad. My umbrella was no regrets and my goals were all examples of situations I would normally formulate regret. Bind your goals to your resolution and it gives you a greater opportunity for success.
Rule 4: Mantras not Minutes
The break down of this is more for practical use. Your resolution should be no longer than three to five words. Crazy, right?!? Crazy good. Unlike your goals, your resolution is supposed to carry over for the whole year. Thus, it should stick with you. Having a sentence that is three to five words long to cover your year makes it easy to remember. Your resolution is your mantra to be repeated to yourself over and over. It is not however meeting minutes rambling on with every detail you suspect is important.
i.e. (In 2017) I am determined and fearless. vs. I am determined and fearless to overcome any challenges that come my way as I embark on the opportunities that 2017 have to offer.
Need I explain more? The first option is short, can be clearly interpreted, and covers a theme of facing challenges – without explicitly saying so. Your resolution is for you. You don’t have to explain it to yourself. Make your resolution simple, memorable, and it will remain with you all year.
Rule 5: Think of it in terms of a year.
In my post, 5 rules for choosing a goal, I push for goals to have deadlines. Deadlines offer a direction and timing is important when working on specific goals. However, resolutions are not meant to have finality in the same sense. Goals need a finish, but resolutions are generally changes you hope to carry with you through life. Thinking of them in short-term timeframes isn’t as beneficial as thinking of them in over longer terms. Goals are a sprint, resolutions are a marathon.
i.e. Year of no regrets/ Year of being determined and fearless.
2012 was my year of no regrets and I still remind myself to make the choices I am drawn to even when I can’t predict the outcome. Earlier this year, I read Shonda Rhimes’, Year of Yes. In it, she talks about continuing passed her year mark. I’ve found thinking in terms of the year made me more likely to continue the process even after the “deadline” had passed. It’s a sneaky little trick, but it works and we’re all looking for something that works.
So there it is more or less. My Umbrella method for choosing a New Year Resolution. Results will vary according to your resolution and will, but otherwise you should be fine. A toast to meeting you on the other side of all we will accomplish in 2017 and to the methods that get us there.