3 key ideas for writing resolutions that work!

Happy New Year! Have you set your resolutions yet? Are they grand? Will your resolutions help you stretch yourself and grow? Or, have you given up on resolutions altogether because you always crap out on them and you’re tired of feeling bad about yourself for never living up to your dreams? I mean, no-one likes to feel bad about themselves, right? Right!

Resolutions are two edged swords and they cuts both ways. Resolutions (or yearly visioning, goal setting, or what ever you want to call them) can help you create a focus so that you are able to channel your mind, your time, and your energy to achieve the most from yourself. Resolutions can be unreachable, unfocused, and so vague that you can’t even tell if you have kept them. In the first instance you have a way to chart your course through the fog of life. In the second you just set yourself up for feeling bad. Let’s focus on the first type and dump the second.

Resolutions that are attainable are:

  1. Clear and trackable
  2. Few in number
  3. Incremental in how you reach them

Clear and trackable means that they are specific and measurable. For example, I study for at least 20 minutes for each class, each night. I give myself a 5 minute break between each 20 minute period to stretch, get a drink, or relax in some other way so my brain can rest and shift gears. When I am done, I reward myself for each 20 minute period I studied with something I like and value. (Pay yourself a dollar into a jar that helps you save for something fun, take a run with the dog, text a friend to get him to help you pat yourself on the back.) You select what you like as reward. It has to mean something positive to you or it won’t be rewarding! Notice that the statements are written in the present tense… I study, I exercise, I eat vegetables, I drink water. They are written in the positive. State what you do because that’s where you’ll go. More on this in a future post.

Few in number means just that! Keeping the numbers of things you want to accomplish in your resolutions allows your mind to focus on finding behaviors and support that will empower you to achieve your resolutions. Having a grocery list of resolutions scatters your energy and your mental focus. You need both energy and mental focus to achieve your resolutions. Keep the list to one, two or, at most, three resolutions that you want to do. If they are related, so much the better! When you have achieved these to your satisfaction, when the behaviors that support the resolution are automatic, then you can you can create your next set of resolutions. There is no law of the universe that says resolutions can only be developed at the first of January. Make a point to evaluate the resolution every few months to see 1) how you are doing, 2) if the resolution is still valid–perhaps something has changed–if it’s no longer relevant, rewrite it, or dump it and pick a new one and, 3) if it is time for the next visioning session.

Incremental in how you reach them means that you allow yourself to achieve your resolutions in step by step fashion. Looking at the example above, perhaps adding 20 minutes per night for studying each and every class feels overwhelming. You have 6 classes and an extra 20 minutes each night means 2 hours of study not including homework. Ow! With all the other things you do, sports, family, friends, whatever, it you think it feels like too much. If that is the case, chunk it down. Add 10 minutes (even 5 minutes) per class plus homework, or pick your two worst subjects and do 20 minutes more in each of them, or pick your worst subject and your favorite subject and study in them. Set a standard that is more than what you do now but that you know you can reach with a little stretch.

In this example the goal is to have a powerful study routine that will help you feel more successful in your classes because you know that will feel good. But, you also know that going from 0 hours studying to 2 hours is too big a leap. Take a smaller step and when you have succeeded in that, take the next step. Even if it takes you a whole year to reach your study time goal, the little improvements will get you there and you will be less likely to quit when your best friend buzzes you for a text chat. You know that you can text her back and tell her you’ll be done in a few minutes and you can reward yourself with the chat then.When I first decided to add meditation to my daily routine, I started with 5 minutes. I added 1 minute each week until I reached my sit time goal. If I missed a day, I just picked up where I was last time I sat. I follow Tony Robbins’s, one of my favorite authors and speakers,  mnemonic CANEI (pronounced can i) which stands for Constant And Never Ending Improvement. Tiny, but consistent, improvements make a HUGE difference over time. I use CANEI all the time!

Resolutions can cut through all the overwhelm we feel about getting better at things that are not as easy as we’d like or reaching goals and dreams that seem a little out of range. Using, and adapting, the guidelines above can help you form resolutions that you will keep and that feels good. We all like to feel good about the improvements we’ve made in our lives, right? Right!

What are my resolutions? With regard to the blog:

  1. To write, on paper, one crappy page per day related to this blog.
  2. To type one crappy post per day into the calendar tracker for this blog.
  3. To edit and make a quality post each week.

I wish you many successes with your resolutions this year.

Happy New Year from Beth at The Tutoring Company!