This blog post is for those of you who are skeptical about resolutions AND for those of you who are already sold on the idea.
Why is writing New Year’s resolutions important?
1. It is a wonderful opportunity to identify your hopes, desires, and dreams for your life.
2. It helps you organize and formalize your dreams into tangible goals.
3. It provides a way to evaluate the areas of your life that are working well and areas for improvement.
4. It gives you a sense of direction and purpose – helping you live an intentional life.
5. By helping you achieve your dreams, resolutions increase the likelihood that you will experience a fulfilling, satisfying life.
I recommend getting a head-start on your New Year’s resolutions by writing them in December; so that you are ready to hit the ground running at the beginning of January.
A 5-Step Exercise for Writing New Year’s Resolutions:
1. Create a master list.
Take 10 minutes to brainstorm and write down all the things you’d like to do in the next year, in this case, 2014. Write down every idea that occurs to you. Do not self-edit or judge your ideas. Be sure to consider all areas of your life, like family, friends, hobbies, work, fitness, and spirituality.
2. Prioritize your master list.
Read over your master list, and circle the goals that are most important to you. These circled items make up your prioritized list.
3. Divide your prioritized list into short-term and long-term goals.
For the purpose of this exercise, short-term goals are those that you can achieve in one year or less. Long-term goals are those that you need more than one year to achieve. Often people underestimate the amount of time required to accomplish a goal. Try to be honest with yourself about this.
Looking only at the circled goals in the master list, place a star next to the goals that will require more than one year to achieve (your long-term goals). Transfer these items to another piece of paper entitled “Long-term Goals.” Save this list of long-term goals to work on at a later time. (The present exercise is focused on developing short-term goals–goals you can achieve in 1 year or less)
Then, transfer those circled items on the master list WITHOUT a star next to them (your short-term goals) to a third piece of paper entitled, “New Year’s Resolutions.”
4. Streamline your list of New Year’s resolutions.
At this point in the exercise, your list should contain between 5 and 10 short-term goals.
Evaluate your list. Are there any goals that you’d like to add or remove? If you have fewer than 5, make sure you’ve considered all areas of your life (see Step #1 above). If you have more than 10, you will need to reduce this list by prioritizing your goals, as you did with your master list in Step #2.
5. Make your resolutions specific and concrete.
Read your resolutions and make sure they are not too general. After you make each resolution as specific as possible, write 2-3 tangible steps that you will take to reach your goal. See the 2 examples below.
Bad example–too general and vague
1. Lose weight
a. Workout more.
b. Eat healthy meals more often.
c. Drink less alcohol.
Good example– specific and concrete
1. Lose 10 pounds by October 1, 2012
a. Jog 3 days/week.
b. Eat steamed vegetables 5 days/week.
c. Drink alcohol only on Fridays and Saturdays, and no more than 3 drinks each day.
Good luck developing your resolutions for the year! You should be proud of yourself for going through this process and being intentional about how you want to spend your time and energy this year.
2012 resolutions, accomplishing goals, career, dreams, exercise, family, fitness, goals, health, life satisfaction, New Year's Eve, New Year's resolutions, purpose in life, setting goals
As I enjoyed Mother’s Day brunch the other day, I observed several other families that had gathered for brunch at the restaurant. A young family sat at one table nearby– the mother was using her iPad, the father was on his cell phone, and their young son was enjoying his food. At another table a young woman sat quietly with a much older woman– maybe her grandmother? At a larger (and rowdier) table, three generations of mothers and their extended family enjoyed conversation and laughter.
I was struck by the different moods of each family. It reminded me that holidays like Mother’s Day can trigger various feelings for people, ranging from happiness and appreciation to loss and anger. While for some people, the holidays provide an opportunity to celebrate and connect with loved ones, for others they are a reminder of previous family conflicts, loved ones who have passed away, or regret about the past. Some people look forward to spending time with family at the holidays, some dread it, and others feel conflicted about it.
Here are 5 ways to cope with feelings about family gatherings:
1. Get a good night’s sleep the night before the gathering.
Feeling rested will reduce your risk of stress at the event by increasing your ability to think clearly and to be patient with your loved ones.
2. Begin your day with 15 minutes of alone time.
This helps give you a sense of inner peace and well-being. Alone time can take many forms, such as a quiet stroll outside in nature, a hot bath, meditation, yoga, journaling, or sitting quietly. Use this time to center yourself in your body and mind, to think about how you’d like the day to go, and to visualize a positive day. Remind yourself that it is okay to have mixed feelings about spending time with family at the holidays. Every family has its problems.
3. Prepare for stressful situations that might arise at the family gathering.
Decide ahead of time how you will handle potential problems at the gathering. Will you try to resolve the problem? Will you leave the room? Will you stay quiet? Will you make a joke? Developing a game plan beforehand will help you manage your stress at the gathering.
4. Practice deep breathing to stay calm in the moment.
If you start to feel tense at the gathering, try breathing deeply and slowly. Proper deep breathing focuses on expansion of the rib cage area, not the stomach. Take a deep breath and slowly exhale to the count of four to six seconds. You can do this while sitting or lying down. Repeat a minimum of five times.
5. Be sure to unwind after the family gathering.
Plan to do something enjoyable and relaxing at the end of the day. This will give you an opportunity to reflect on your day and to enter tomorrow with a fresh start!
I recently read a good article in the NY Times about Freud’s philosophy about feelings. He believed (and I agree) that it is important to have an awareness of one’s feelings and to develop an ability to “tolerate ambivalent feelings” that one may experience. Gordon Marino writes in the article that “those who are unaware of their feelings risk becoming puppets of those feelings.”
You can read the entire article here: