Calvin and Hobbs by Bill Watterson
Will you be making New Year's Resolutions? The top ten New Year's Resolutions are
1) Spend more time with family
2) Get in shape
3) Lose weight
4) Quit smoking
5) Quit drinking
6) Enjoy life
7) Get out of debt
8) Help others
9) Organize something
10) Learn something new
You can call them resolutions, goals, intentions, plans, prayer requests. Many people just make a wish list but they don't follow through. Do you seriously want to accomplish something this year? Here are some important tips to help you keep your New Year Resolutions:
* Make a list. Be specific. Don't be too broad in scope. For instance, to "Be a better person" is a nice sentiment but HOW are you going to be a better person. "Take anger management class" is a specific step to becoming a better person. Your goals should be realistic. And they should mean something to you. You won't be motivated if you don't really want to change.
* Make a plan to accomplish your goals. "Quit smoking" is a great goal. But how will you measure your success. Be realistic and measurable. Plan how you are going to quit smoking. So under the "Quit Smoking" goal, write down the steps you are willing to take to work the process. Take baby steps, one at a time. Consider adding these steps to your calendar. For example: 1/15/2011 Make appt with doctor, 1/20/2011 Have you been to the doctor and discussed weight loss program yet?, 2/1/2011 Weigh in day, 3/1/2011 Have you lost 5 lbs yet?, etc.
* Write your list of resolutions down and write down your plan to accomplish those resolutions. Have it in black and white.
* Make a "pro" and "con" list to help you stay motivated.
* Tell someone else so they can help keep you motivated and accountable. Don't tell a person who will knock you down and discourage you. And don't ask someone to help you be accountable if you don't want them to. Some relationships or people can get under your skin. You automatically tend to think they are nagging or trying to hurt or anger you. For instance if your spouse asks you how you are doing on your weight loss program and it hurts your feelings or makes you angry and defensive then don't ask your spouse to help you be accountable. For instance if my husband asks me if I've lost any weight, I automatically get my hackles up. It's an auto response. My sisters could ask me and I don't get defensive or hurt. Another example, if I ask my husband if he's gotten his shop organized, his auto response is to think I'm nagging. His friend could ask him the same question and he wouldn't feel defensive. A parent can tell their child not to smoke and they brush it off and ignore it. But a peer can tell them not to smoke and they hear it. It's just that way. So be careful who you ask to hold you accountable. Choose someone you can hear, listen to and be honest with.
* Begin to think positively about your goals. Don't allow your mind to undermine you. If you hear your mind say, "You can't do it" then immediately counter that thought with something more positive like, "I can do it." If you want to get in shape then make your plan, begin to work the plan and talk to yourself in positive ways about it. "I can get up early in the morning and walk around the block"; "I didn't lose weight this week but I'm feeling better"; "I've been able to increase my repetitions"; "I missed yesterday but I'm going at it again this morning"; "I'm loving the feeling after I work out"; etc. If you have negative mindsets that means that your thoughts have followed a negative path through the forest of your mind. If you let that happen often enough, that thought path becomes well worn and easy. But it's not good for you, so you have to forge a new path through the forest of your mind. Create new positive thoughts. If you deliberately forge and follow a new path, then eventually it becomes the well worn and easy way of thinking. At first it's very hard to make yourself think this new way. But it's well worth the effort. The Bible calls it "the renewing of your mind".
Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, in order to prove by you what is that good and pleasing and perfect will of God.
* Find alternatives to a behavior that you want to change. For instance, if your resolution is to get out of debt then look at your spending habits and try to determine cheaper alternatives. If you eat out a lot, then determine to make some less expensive meals at home, or go to cheaper restaurants. If you buy your lunch everyday, try changing your habit by taking your own lunch. Make those lunches interesting and fun. It doesn't have to be a pbj (peanut butter and jelly sandwich). That's boring and you are tempted to toss it and go out. If you're fun on Saturday is shopping, then resolve to find another way to spend your Saturday that is equally fun but not so expensive.
* Don't demand perfection from yourself or anyone else. It's an impossible demand. Human beings make mistakes. So give yourself some slack when you mess up. Perfectionism is unrealistic. But don't give up either. Pick yourself back up and keep trying. And remember to keep up your positive thoughts.
* Surround yourself with those who can help you meet your goals. If your goal is to quit drinking, then don't go out with your party buddies. If your goal is to get in better shape, make some friends at the gym or look for a running buddy. If your resolution is to enjoy life more, then cut out those who drag you down or who negatively impact your life or those who tempt you to do things you shouldn't. Social support is important.
* Celebrate your success by treating yourself to something that you enjoy that does not contradict your resolution. If you are trying to lose weight and you've lost a couple of pounds, celebrate! But not with a dozen donuts! Find another way to reward yourself. Maybe a new book that you've been wanting; maybe treat yourself to a movie you've been wanting to see.
* Track your progress. Keep a food journal or an exercise journal. I often use Facebook and my blog for tracking my progress. I like telling my friends and family what I've accomplished towards my goals. My goal today was to organize and put away my Christmas decorations. I did a blog post a week before Christmas on how to organize and store your Christmas decorations. When I started to take them down, I made an announcement on Facebook. Then, once I was finished, I updated my status on FB. And if you see someone on FB working towards something and they announce an accomplishment, give them some encouragement and pats on the back. If you need it then they need it too.
* Our intentions need actions or they won't go anywhere. Once you've made your list and your plan, it's time to work the plan. Take action. Do something towards accomplishment.
* As a Christian, I believe the most important thing is to pray about your New Year's Resolutions or goals. Pray about what goals to make. Then pray and ask God how best to achieve your goals. Pray and ask God's help in meeting your goals. Praise and thank God when you see success and meet your goals. We can have the best intentions in the world, but without God it's a fruitless endeavor. God gives us strength, helps us overcome ourselves, and blesses our efforts. He also forgives us when we mess up. Make your New Year's Resolutions your prayer requests.
Here are my New Year's Resolutions:
1) Read at least 52 books
2) Find a church home and get involved
3) Continue going to the gym and working in the pool 3-5 times a week
4) Organize and declutter my office
5) Pay off credit cards
6) Try HRT
7) We would like to change out our windows with new ones
8) Fix the backyard so that our dogs can go outside
9) I would love to have one of my bedroom windows changed to a door to the backyard
10) Take vitamins