Here are a few tips for keeping it, plus an alternative
and plenty of empathy for those who can’t
As you become accustomed to replacing an outdated calendar with a new one, putting it up in the same spot year after year, it grows easier to become complacent with the idea of making “resolutions.”
After all, hasn’t each of us, at one point or another, vowed to lose 40 pounds soon after the New Year’s Eve ball has fallen, only to face that predictable sense of disappointment 11 1/2 months later when the scale still reads the same?
But there is hope for even the most cynical of ex-resolutionists. Just keep these four principles in mind as you make your New Year’s resolutions, and it will be easier to combat the resolution fatigue and make this year time for a new you.
1. Practicality and reality work hand in hand: Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it’s likely that you won’t shed those pesky 40 pounds all that easily.
Over-reaching on a resolution is the first step toward preventing it from happening. So be as specific as possible in making your pledge. Personalize your goals to fit your capabilities and take your schedule into account.
Not only does this allow you to increase the likelihood of keeping your resolution, it also spares you the guilt that comes with failing in an impossible task.
2. Planning is key: To make that dream of writing the next great American novel a reality, you have to plan out how and when, exactly, you will accomplish the task.
Writing a chapter a week is a much harder goal to reach than planning on writing a chapter (or even two, for the ambitious) each month.
Instead of just settling for some nebulous New Year’s resolution, set dates for accomplishing specific goals and check your calendar, repeatedly, ahead of that goal date to see how you are progressing.
Modify your plan to fit your new timeline if necessary. Crisis management is a key element in planning. Much like a ticking clock, the calendar can be your kindest friend or most wretched enemy, so it’s best to stay on its good side.
3. Remember what your resolution is: This may sound incredibly obvious, but knowing what your resolution is keeps it as a real part of your life. I can’t tell you how difficult it is for me to retain a simple pledge a day past Jan. 1.
Commit your resolution to print and keep that reminder in a place you see every day for reaffirmation.
4. If resolutions just don’t seem to work for you no matter what, try making predictions instead: In the event that you have grown cynical with the tradition of New Year’s resolutions, or if you have tried the aforementioned methods and they haven’t helped, then pull out your crystal ball a snow globe left over from Christmas will do as a substitute and make some informed guesses about what your future might hold.
I started this tradition on my blog two years ago, and since then, two of my friends have similarly begun looking into their futures. If you don’t make your resolutions on time ( like me I sit on mine till mid-January), you’ll be subjected to nagging and prodding from your fellow psychics. Yet once they are out there, you’ll be more compelled to make your predictions come true.
You get bonus points if they actually do materialize.
Eight out of 10 of my predictions for 2007 were good, which did wonders for promoting the following year’s pool.
Your predictions should involve you and/or your friends and can be as conservative or absurd in their estimates as you please. (Although, I would suggest shying away from making predictions about things you have no ability to affect, as the scheme loses its value as an alternative to resolutions otherwise.)
Predict that you will earn more than you did last year, that you will meet the person of your
dreams or that one of your best friends will grow a Fu Manchu just in time for autumn whatever catches your fancy. After all, this is an opportunity to give your year some defining characteristics long after the 2008 calendar has been relegated to the trash bin. I, for one, am far more likely to remember 2006 as the year I correctly predicted that I would see my favorite band four times (as it turned out, I saw them five times) than for the fluctuations in my weight.
The most important thing is that you use this year to build your resolve.
Resolutions are all about self-empowerment, and the very nature of keeping yourself committed to an ideal or a goal will do far more for your year than eating copious amounts of cabbage and black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day.
Even if you do end up spending the same amount of money in ’08 as you did in ’07, you had the intention to make that change. It counts if you intended to spend less and carried that intention through all four seasons. There’s always next year.
If you do happen to make results out of resolutions, you have my heartiest congratulations. And if you manage to only make it as far as Feb. 1, you can find comfort in the fact that your resolution is 30 days more accomplished than any of mine have ever been.
Reyan Ali is a student at Denison University in Granville, Ohio and an intern at Dallas Voice. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 4, 2008