As 2015 closes in, it becomes that time of year – when we all hopefully and idealistically agree that we will shape up, get disciplined, and finally stick to a “New Year’s Resolution” (even though the ones we have set for the past 5 years haven’t lasted past January 15). When we make personal resolutions, we often set ourselves up to fail because we put unnecessary pressure on ourselves to achieve – and when we don’t, we are quick to give up.
This year, I’m saying ‘no’ to New Year’s Resolutions because over the course of the past few weeks, I’ve discovered some options that might work better. If you’re looking for ways to purposefully and thoughtfully jump into 2016, here are a few things I’ll personally be doing that I wanted to share. They are designed for different types of people, so it is my hope that at least one will resonate with you!
Instead of focusing on a laundry list of vague goals like “eat healthier” or “exercise more,” the #oneword campaign challenges us to select one single word that encompasses who we want to be and how we want to live in 2016 and to spend all 365 days letting that word shape us. Celebrate. Adventure. Embrace. Faith. New. Slow. Uplift. Adapt. Focus. Empower. Breathe. Dream. Love. Thrive. Dare. Growth. The possibilities are literally endless with #oneword. This approach to the new-year is perfect for those of us who get overwhelmed with lists or are easily caught up with setbacks.
2) Make your goals s.m.a.r.t.
#Oneword is great for people who have trouble keeping up with lists or tasks or maybe will find it easier to focus on one idea, but that method certainly isn’t for everyone. So, if you are someone who likes to have individual goals or resolutions, make them SMART! We use this trick for goal writing at work, as I’m sure some of you do as well. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Instead of saying you are going to “eat healthier,” commit to meal-prepping healthy lunches one week each month. SMART goals are easier to track because they are more specific, and they are great for those of us who are detail-oriented and task-driven.
3) Let quotes inspire you
I have always been someone who loves quotes, from books, speeches, movies, anything. This year, I have decided I am going to use a couple of quotes (that I hope to soon paint on canvases and put up in my room or office) to keep me focused and thoughtful throughout the year. If the idea of only selecting one word stresses you out, instead select quotes and then isolate a theme from each quote that you want to focus on for this year. You can even choose quotes you already love and give them new attention and focus!
Here is an example of one of my quotes for 2016:
“Keep your face always toward the sunshine, and the shadow will fall behind you.” -Walt Whitman, positivity
4) Guidelines > resolutions
Instead of making resolutions, create a few loose guidelines. Your guidelines are not measurable and they aren’t specific. They are the SMART goal’s enemy. Instead, your guidelines will serve all year to remind you of the things you want to see in yourself and in your world. It’s okay if you don’t achieve every single one all of the time. Your guidelines are there to serve as a reminder of what you are striving for. Challenge yourself to share your guidelines with your students, peers, or colleagues and seek accountability!
Here are a few of my guidelines for 2016:
Replace complaining with gratitude.
Seek knowledge over ignorance & wisdom over knowledge.
Here is the bottom line: a) don’t let yourself get caught up in the pressure to do something drastically different or significant or important in 2016. And b) don’t let yourself become discouraged when you quickly “fail” at the goals you have set. Because the reality is this: by committing to bettering yourself or the world in any way, shape, or form, you have already done something exceptional.