5 Steps to New Year’s Resolutions That Stick!

New Year's Resolutions

The Perfect Time for a Clear Look

Yes, it was that time of year, and now it’s this time of year. The time of year when almost 50% of Americans make at least one New Year’s Resolution (NYR). What’s a BP to do?

Option One: Ignore the Whole “Resolution” Tangle. This is a perfectly legitimate approach to NYRs, especially if you are in or are close to crisis of any kind in any part of your life. If you are manic or depressed as you come upon this article, keep reading if it’s helpful but feel free to read it for interest and then disregard it entirely. Or just pass on to something else right now. This is true even if some minor detail is making you feel just a little bit out of control. Or you ran out of coffee creamer this morning. Or you have a hangnail. Whatever your reason, if you don’t feel like taking on a resolution right now, DON’T. The last thing you need is a self-inflicted duty on top of what you’re already feeling.

Option Two: Take On a Meaningful Challenge with Joy and Enthusiasm. If you think of NYRs and feel a little spark of excitement, then the rest of this post is for you! You have a once-in-a-year opportunity to feel that fresh start that a New Year provides. It’s a lot like that perspective you get when holding a newborn.

Everything is in the past. The future starts now. Right now is a clear break in time and you’re on the precipice, looking outward toward a hazy but safe future that you can create.

I know you’re already arguing with me. I know that because I’m arguing with me about the sentence I just wrote. I could write a whole blog post justifying that sentence but a few words will have to suffice. I said a “safe” future because, whether through your faith or a rationalist perspective, you know that no matter what happens, even if it be your death or, perhaps worse, the death of someone you love, everything will be okay in the big picture. And I said you can “create” it despite the inevitable impingement of circumstances and forces beyond your control, including the vagaries of your bipolar disorder, because you are the single force that is stronger than any of those forces individually.

Let’s get on to creating a 2015 that you love! Your best year ever! (So far.) There are as many ways of approaching how to create a NYR as there are resolutions. I can’t list them all here. But let me give you a framework for envisioning your best future and then some suggestions for how to move from there to actionable, achievable, meaningful, exciting resolution(s).

Start with a few minutes in your Safe Place. This is a time for you to relax into your Self and reconnect with what’s most important to you. (If you aren’t familiar with the Safe Place, or haven’t quite figured yours out yet, check out the blog I just published a couple of days ago at http://977.1bc.myftpupload.com/your-safe-place/ then pop back here.) This time will pay off in the clarity, calm and focus it will provide you. So, go ahead. I’ll wait.

Welcome back. I hope you’re feeling calm, centered and in touch with the people, ideas and hopes that are most valuable to you. Now, from that calm and wise place, you can choose from an infinite number of possibilities.

1. Ask Yourself: “What Would Make Me Happier One Year From Today?” The focus on a year from now gives you a longer-term perspective and helps you see things that might require some effort but that will pay off in real and meaningful happiness. It might be having more of something good (fun with friends, time with a hobby, letter writing) or less of something bad (procrastination on confusing assignments, time with a soul-sucker, alcohol). Or the introduction of something new entirely (creating a new career direction, taking up a healing habit like daily walks, spending regular time in your Safe Place).

2. If You Feel Ready To Make More Than One Resolution, you can write down all of the major categories that you see as structuring your life (or all of the major roles you fill in your life) and pick a resolution for each one. Or you can write down the three best and three worst things about your life right now and make six resolutions: three that grow the best things you’ve got going or duplicate them in new areas of your life and three that shrink the problem areas or even eliminate them from your life. Another approach, if you keep a regular diary or calendar, is to look over the last month’s entries to find things you want to change and then make resolutions that will change those hotspots.

3. Make Your Resolutions Concrete, Measurable and Attainable. Let’s say you choose to create a new career direction. How will you know on December 31, 2015 that you did it? That resolution needs more concrete, measurable and attainable details. You could choose a measurable outcome like “I will be in a new job in my new career by the end of the year,” or a measurable input like “I will invest 2 hours every week on my new career.”

Either one of those is concrete: you know what it means. Each one is measurable: you know whether you’ve achieved it or not. I must say, though, that the second one, where you invest 2 hours each week, is far more measurable because you get to see your progress every week. The first one has only one measurement and that’s on December 31, 2015. Prefer resolutions with regular measurables rather than a single win/lose outcome.

Finally, you must decide if it’s attainable. Can you really be in a new job in a new career in one year? Can you really invest two hours every week in your new career? If you’re not sure, your resolution may be too challenging to keep consistently throughout an entire year. Dial it back a tad until you feel confident you can keep it. But do keep in mind that you have a whole year to accomplish your goal. According to Gretchen Rubin, “We tend to over-estimate what we can do over a short time and under-estimate what we can do over a long time, if we make consistent, small steps.”

4. Decide Whether To Start Gradually or To Throw Yourself In. Consider a resolution that builds on itself over time. If you want to “exercise regularly” in 2015, start with 5 minutes each day of January. 10 minutes each day of February. In March, it’s 10 minutes plus you have to wear exercise clothes while you workout. In April it’s 15 minutes with exercise clothes and at least 1x per week you go to the gym or your take an hour walk. And so on…

However, for some people, big changes are much more motivating. A revolutionary sudden change in your life might be far more motivating to you than the incremental exercise plan I just described. You have to look inward to see which approach will work better for your particular style.

5. Hold Yourself Accountable. Find a live support group or an online group where you can post regularly and get to know some people. Or at least keep a written record of whether you are achieving your resolution on a regular basis. You will only be able to hold yourself accountable if you’ve truly made your resolution measurable.

Good luck and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Originally published at http://977.1bc.myftpupload.com/2015-resolutions/