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New Year, New Resolution
Whether you are at the
lake or not, January is a good time to reflect on how you are doing
personally, professionally, financially, and socially. You owe it to
yourself to take some time and truly reflect on your past year. Are you
where you wanted to be? Did you accomplish the things you set out to? If you
are like most people, you probably succeeded sometimes, but not as often as
you would like to. The New Year is a time for looking back to the past, and
also a time to look forward to the coming year. It's a time to reflect on
the changes we want, or need, to have the motivation to move forward. Many
of us choose to make a New Years resolution to improve something about
ourselves after reflecting on the past year.
Why do we celebrate
New Year's Eve, and why do we make resolutions? The tradition of making
resolutions is as old as New Year's celebrations. The Babylonians celebrated
New Years Day over four thousand years ago, although their celebration was
in March rather than in January, coinciding with the spring planting of
crops. This tradition is continued in our New Year’s celebrations today.
It's hard not to get the urge to make a resolution on New Year's Eve.
There's a sense of renewal, of rebirth, and the guilt of knowing that you
ate your own weight in chocolate during the holidays. OK, last year's
resolutions didn't make it past the first week of January, but this year's
going to be different! Are you determined that this year you'll keep those
New Year's Resolutions? Here are a few goal setting and keeping tips to get
Most people don't know how to make a reasonable resolution, which is why
most of us fail to keep the ones we make. We set unrealistically high goals
for ourselves, and then wonder why we never attain them. Then we either stop
setting goals (not a good choice, but one I made for many years), or make
resolutions that are ridiculously easy to keep.
The trick to making and keeping resolutions is setting achievable goals.
Resolutions that come from your heart and expectations you can live with are
key. The interesting thing about New Year’s Resolutions is
that once you’ve had a few successful experiences with them, they become a
ritual you look forward to, rather than dread.
Here is a way to
organize your goal setting for the New Year. When you are ready to think
about your resolution get a piece of paper and a pencil and find a quiet
place to work. On the paper write down the following headers:
Under the Personal heading sketch out your
family goals, or your health and life changing goals, such as breaking a bad
habit. Under the Professional heading, draft goals for your work or
education. Under Financial, write any goals related to controlling your
financial security. Finally, under the Social section, list goals that
include ways you can help others. Remember, when writing goals, be specific,
and include measurable and obtainable desired results.
Once you have your
sections filled in with your goals, you need to do two more things. First,
plan how you are going to accomplish your goals. Second, identify a specific
date to accomplish your goals. Without these last two items, you may find
yourself looking back next January and wondering why you were not a
successful as you would have liked.
document is only good if it is used. Put it somewhere you will be able to
find it and refer to it frequently. Before making big decisions, refer to
the list to verify whether your decision brings you closer to some or all of
your goals. If not, then either modify your goal or make a different
try to accomplish everything at once! There's a temptation, with the New
Year, to create a list of everything we've ever wanted to change. You'll
have a better chance of fulfilling one or two goals than you will with a
list of fifty. Remember, you can always add new resolutions to your list
later. Take one thing at a time.
Another trick to
setting New Year’s Resolutions that really work for you is to set goals you
truly believe in. Don’t resolve to quit smoking, give up chocolate, or start
a rigorous workout program unless you’ve already felt some desire and
commitment to that goal. Then make a plan. Once you know what your
resolution is, break it down into small components or steps. Nobody
accomplishes anything of significance by trying to do it all at once. This
doesn't have to be complicated; just draft enough to give yourself a place
For any goals you set,
make sure you give yourself enough time to adjust to your decisions and to
plan how you will accomplish them. For example, if you want to quit smoking
this year, schedule the month of January for researching some support
programs and aids, then identify which to try and set a schedule for
quitting. Word your resolution carefully. If your resolution is to relax
more in the coming year, don’t think of it as "This year I am going to
relax." That kind of wording forces you to think of the resolution as
something you must do, not something you want to do. Make the wording a
little more easily handled, such as: "This year I'm going to explore
different ways of relaxing." This also implies more of a plan—you will
fulfill the goal by experimenting with relaxation techniques, rather than
forcing yourself to relax by sheer willpower.
Outline a plan like this for exploring relaxation techniques:
1) Search for different relaxation techniques on the Internet.
2) Make a list of the techniques that interest you.
3) Pick one technique—meditation, progressive relaxation or yoga, for
instance—and try it for a month.
4) Try a different technique each month until you find one you like.
Writing down your resolution and your plan of action help you to stick to
it. Keep it where you know you'll see it and be able to refer to it. That
way you'll have a constant reminder of the resolution. You may want to
change the wording as time passes and your goal evolves.
New Year's Day invites
you to begin a new page in your life. If all this advice isn’t enough to
help you reach your goals, there is a web site that will charge you to post
your resolution publicly or privately (http://www.bookofpromises.com).
There is also a web site (www.hiaspire.com/newyear/) where you can sign up to have them
send you e-mail reminders of your resolution every month, just so you don’t
lose sight of the resolution you have made. Happy New Year, and good luck
with your resolutions!
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