I’m a serial failure at making my New Yeear’s resolutions stick. I like making them because I feel like the beginning of a new year is a fresh start, but I have always lacked follow-through. Most years, I’d have already forgotten them by now. This year, I changed my mindset. I no longer worry about doing something for the entire year. Now, I find things I want to do that will enrich my life and work on doing them today. Tonight, I will reflect back and feel good about what I’ve done. Tomorrow morning, I will carry that feeling with me and do it all over again.
I know this might sound like some hippie, new-age pile of crap. I definitely thought it was. But, I’m a believer now. I can’t deny how much better I feel in the morning, how much more calmer I stay when things don’t go the way I hoped, and most importantly, how much I’m beginning to like the person I am. I have confidence that I will be able to keep going and look back on New Year’s Eve this year and know I’ve succeeded!
Here are 5 easy things I attribute to my success. And yes, many of them are apps that help me stay on track. They work and this is one time I won’t bitch and moan about how technology is slowly killing life as we know it.
- Start every day with a positive thought. This might have been the biggest pile for me to swallow. The first time I read the suggestion to wake up and say “thank you” repeatedly as you get out of bed, I rolled my eyes and may have even snorted at the absurdity of the implication that this could help me. It totally does! Now, I’m thinking about what I’m grateful for rather than being dragged under by everything I need to accomplish during the day.
- Keep it Simple. Believe me, I have plenty of traits I want to change about myself. The problem is, it’s taken me thirty-eight years to get to where I am, so it’s unrealistic to think it’ll change overnight. I have six tasks I’m focusing on this month. They’re small, manageable goals that’ll make a long term impact. If they’re coming to me naturally by the beginning of February, I will take them off the Streaks app (available on iPhone, not sure about Android) and add something else. That doesn’t mean I’ll stop doing the tasks, simply that they’re habits I don’t need to be remind myself to do.
- Keep it Realistic. Some of my goals for this month are automatic for most people, such as eating breakfast. One takes very little time if I’m in a crunch. One is non-negotiable during the week, but is something I slacked on far too much in 2015 to not include it. But there are two which could easily overwhelm me: doing laundry and getting a bag/box of clutter out of my house every day. Rather than leave those open-ended, I’ve set a time limit for myself. We’ve lived in this house for almost four years, which means there’s four years of clutter to go through. And there’s months of never quite being caught up on the laundry which has accumulated. To keep myself from feeling as though I’m drowning in these two tasks, I have begun using the Pomodoro Method (and app, there are several on both smartphone operating systems) to make progress without giving up my life. I spend one hour a day on these tasks, combined. Ten minutes on and five minutes off, alternating between the tasks. I’ve also found that for the decluttering, taking pictures of my before and after keeps me motivated.
- Journal. This is another task I swore was ridiculous and would never work. Last week, I talked about The Artist’s Way and how much it’s helped me already. That hasn’t changed. The habit is well on its way to being fully formed and I now look forward to starting every day with a brain purge. I open my notebook and write for three pages. Most days, it’s semi-coherent rambling because it’s done over my morning cup of coffee, but it gives me a chance to pour out any lingering negativity. Once it’s on the page, I’ve released it from my mind so it can’t drag me under. Then, I focus on the positivity I want to feel that day. Affirmations are a wonderful thing!
- Celebrate your success! The mind is the biggest stumbling block to achieving any goal. If you made small progress, that needs to be a huge deal in your mind. Hold onto how you felt. Write it down the next morning in your journal. Every night, I write down what I’m most grateful for that day on a slip of paper. The plan is to look at them on New Year’s Eve, but even if I don’t, seeing them filling a jar will give me a visual reminder of everything I’ve done this year.
Resolutions and goals don’t have to start on the first of the year. Or at the beginning of a month. Or on a Monday. You can start any time and work toward success, one day at a time!