Setting Effective New Years Resolutions

When the old year comes to an end there is a whole new outpouring of New Year’s resolutions. Some of the more common resolutions that people make are to give up chocolate or something else they love, to exercise, to lose weight or to eat healthier. For me personally, I always seem to make resolutions that involve self-development more than they do about health.

Self-development resolutions in theory might sound good. However, the challenge is how can they be effectively measured. Health-oriented goals are very quantifiable and tangible. However, resolutions that are about personal development and our characters are much more difficult to measure. For example, in terms of getting healthier, you can go three times per week to the gym or not. You cut back on how much junk food you eat or not. The same thing with losing weight, you either do or you don’t. However, resolutions regarding your character are not that clear cut or easy to measure. How can you quantify whether or not you are a better person? What about measuring whether or not you are more patient or less judgmental? An even more important question is how can we keep ourselves accountable to these goals?

“Softer” intentions and resolutions require a higher level of self-awareness and deeper introspection to be able to really know if you have succeeded in making the transformation that you were trying to achieve. Self-awareness is critical to making any desired changes. In fact, the foundation of change is self-awareness.

If you have some “softer” resolutions that you would like to achieve, to stay accountable the most important thing is to be constantly aware of what your intentions are. Using “being less judgmental” as our example, here are ways to accomplish this:

1. Write down your Resolutions
Just like if your goal was to lose weight, start a resolutions journal and write your resolutions down in place that will remind you on a daily basis of what your intentions are.

2. Create your Action Plan
List all of the things you can do to keep your resolution. For example, if you want to be less judgmental, specify how you will 1) not judge someone before you really get to know them well 2) refrain from saying or thinking negative things about other people and what these individuals do, and 3) find positive things to say about any individuals that you think you might be likely to judge or be critical about.

3. Journal
Every day, write down what you have or haven’t done in your journal about keeping your intentions. For example, if you met a new person and were able to not judge them by using some strategies that are in your action plan, then you were successful. This should be noted in your journal. However, if you met a new person and you resorted to your usual judgmental behavior, that needs to be documented as well.

4. Rewrite History
If a story of yours doesn’t go as you had hoped it would, create a new story in your journal about what you think you could have done differently to change the outcome. This will help you raise your awareness level and help you think of ways to hep you avoid making the same mistakes again.

5. Keep writing in your Journal until it becomes Second Nature to you
At some point, you will ideally start seeing your behavior change. Hopefully at this point, the resolution that you made will be second nature to you. If this happens, then congratulations. However, you still most likely go through times when you feel like you are regressing. All of us slip up from time to time, so it is only natural. If you continue to regress for a long time however, get your journal out and start to work on the resolution once again.

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