How to keep our New Year’s Resolutions

Old habits can be changed by small steps, practical actions, and consistent follow up.

With the New Year upon us, are you one of the people who decided to make some changes in your life? Also, are you one of us whose big resolutions haven’t been fulfilled in previous years?

What makes a Resolution achievable?

• Realistic Goal
• Measurable Actions
• Proportionate Evaluation

A Realistic Goal is the first step towards accomplishing anything significant. If you establish a goal too low, it is way too easy to achieve. As a result, you expend minimal effort or you don’t feel like you accomplished anything. If the goal is set too high, it might become too stressful in the process of achieving it. It might be too tempting to give up with the overwhelming feeling it’s unattainable and out of reach.

If you are an introvert with few friends and a flat social life, you might decide to open up in the New Year and figure out some fun way of having more interaction with people. However, it’s not reasonable to expect yourself quickly turning into a weekly partygoer.

Measurable Actions are the heart of the process and most of the time these are missing from the repertoire of those who abandon their resolutions. I’ve heard people expressing their desire of being more organized this year, being a better parent, a better spouse, becoming more patient or less stressed out. But, in reality, how is this accomplished?

This is the part where you have to be more thorough and break down the vague desire onto measurable action. What would you do differently – and how often?

If you want to be more organized, you have to decide in which area of your life you want to see changes; home, schedule, appearance…? Once done, you need to figure out what actions do you need to take and how often; designate house cleaning once a week, buying an organizer and keeping track of the assignment on a daily basis, or creating a stricter schedule of the housework or other task weekly. Write it down, and monitor it on an ongoing basis.

Do you want to be a better parent? Which way? Do you want to be more attentive to your child? OK. Make a pledge that you will listen to his/her full story without interruption. Listen attentively to what s/he tells about the silly games they played, the hurt what s/he suffered and not just the official school stuff with homework performance and the teacher’s notice. I know! Sometimes what is important for them is completely indifferent for us. Imagine! What is important for us is completely indifferent for our children! Still, we want to stay in contact with them, don’t we? Count it! How many stories could you listen entirely to in one day? How many times did you reject listening in the name of the laundry, in the name of cooking or the shopping? (I know you have house work too!)

Do you want to be more understanding with your children or spouse? How can you measure it? When you feel like you have to roll your eyes as the sign of rejection or you are just about to say what an idiot the other party is, quickly stop yourself! This is your momentary evaluation (maybe before you would know all the circumstances). Suspend it and listen to what the other says and feels! Try to imagine yourself in his/her place! Without judgment, try to understand why s/he got into this situation in the first place. You might not react the same way in the same situation. It is nothing to judge about it, we are all different. You can count how much disapproval you drew back and changed into understanding by focusing on listening. Give yourself a tally when it was successful and another one with another color when you fell back to your old negative habit.

You can also count encouragement, approval or simply the positive initiatives from your part.

You can decide to give some small kindness every day or one substantial weekly.

Proportionate Evaluationis necessary to stay in touch with reality.

If you ate one piece of cookie, it doesn’t mean the diet is over! (“I am a big failure!”) No! You kept the morning diet, you didn’t eat a snack before noon, you resisted the temptation at lunch, didn’t have a snack in the afternoon, but Uuups! In the evening you ate a cookie! You succeeded throughout the day – at least four times if not more, and had one failure. It is at least 80% achievement! 80% is acceptable almost everywhere; in school, in an exam, in your job! Be proud of it!

If you decided to lead a healthier lifestyle and you exercised every weekday and you left one out – it is not the end of the world! This week you accomplished 80%. Reflect what’s happened why you weren’t able to accomplish that day in order to prevent it happening again! Go back to exercise the next day and try to keep your original schedule the following week!

But in any case; diet, exercise, being organized, being attentive, being understanding; think about it! Even if you reach only 50% of your original resolution, it is way better than giving up or even not having any transformation in your mind! Even if you achieve 30-50%: you’re the winner with that percentage!

Keep up the good work!