Inspire

The Good Life Guide to Resolutions: 5 Tips for Better Resolutions

In the spirit of the New Year, I have thought about resolutions and goals.  The first part of the series was solely focused on the idea of the gym.  It has already been a week since that post.  How goes the gym flow?  How many cheat days have you had already?  Have you lost inspiration or seen people lose it?  Need some help on resolutions? Well, you’re in luck!

The second part of The Good Life Guide to Resolutions features my experience with goals and resolutions and tips for you.

My family makes it a tradition to write it out our Resolutions on New Year’s Eve.  I write mine.  My aunts write their own.  My little cousins write their own.

Resolutions for 2013 Resolutions for 2012 Resolutions for 2009

Over the years, I have developed some personal guidelines to help me make my resolutions:

1)      Reflect Before You Write

Scroll back up and look carefully at my old family pictures.  Hopefully you can read some… (One goal for this year is to save up for a quality camera haha)

Do you see any duplicates in one year?  Many of younger cousins tend to copy the older cousins.  That’s just how it is.  My suggestion is to take some time to reflect on what you really want.  Do you really want to improve your handwriting? Or are you influenced by others? (BTW, my handwriting still sucks)

Personally, I take a whole week before New Year’s to think about what happened the past year and what to expect for the upcoming year.

Do some thoughtful thinking while taking a shower (because we all do that).  Or do some free writing.  What were your past resolutions?  How did those end up?  Did you achieve the results you wanted?  Is there anything you wanted to save up for?  Do you have any weaknesses you wanted to work on?  Were there any new events you wanted to experience in the upcoming year?  What is important to you this year?

Use some of your answers to those reflection questions to help frame your new resolutions.  When thinking of your resolutions, make sure you write or type it out.  Keep in mind the acronym SMART

Make sure your resolutions are Specific.  Don’t just put: “Lose X amount of pounds”.  Use a specific number.

Make sure your resolutions are Measureable.  Physical goals are easier to measure because they already have a unit of measure:  lose pounds, run miles in minutes, etc.

For some resolutions, you may have to attach your own units of measure.  If you want to be more creative this year, set a number of projects to do or music pieces to master.  Whatever units you plan to use just make sure to get a baseline of where you stand for future comparison.

Make sure your resolutions are Attainable.  This one is tricky.  I am one of those people who is into believing in themselves.  If you have the time and resources to accomplish it, I think it’s attainable as long as you believe in yourself.

Make sure your resolutions are Realistic.  No amount of willpower or believing can make you rich overnight or wake up as Angelina Jolie or Brad Pitt.  #SorryNotSorry

Make sure your resolutions are Time-bound.  New Year Resolutions are naturally time-bound to a year.  365 days may seem long, but it goes by fast when you’re living it.  To achieve your resolutions by the end of the year, make sure you keep on schedule.  What a perfect transition to Tip #2.

2)      Create and Plan Timelines

A timeline is a fancier, less stressful way of saying a deadline.  Ugh.  Deadlines.  They remind me of school work.  But they do help us!  Deadlines make sure you are on track to achieve the results you want.

For example, let’s say your resolution is to lose 50 pounds by the end of the year.  I would set deadlines for each month.  No one is just going to accomplish their goal in the last month of the year.  I would have a deadline of losing around 4 pounds each month.

You can even break it up even more.  I would have a weekly goal of losing 1 pound per week.  If I just tracked myself week by week, and made the small goal of losing a pound a week, I would eventually lose a total of 50-52 pounds that year.

One of this year’s goals is to document my life.  Ok. So that goal isn’t really specific.  But the derived goals are! A derived resolution from that is to post up weekly blogs.  I created a spreadsheet that lists the 52 topics and the posting due date for each of those.  If you wanted to know, I will be posting every Sunday for the rest of the year.

3)      Incorporate Daily Actions

The Compound Effect, by Darren Hardy, helped me love the idea of daily actions.  The effects of daily actions or habits start to add up.

The book uses a calorie example, which I will paraphrase.  There are two friends: Adam and Brad.  Both of them are the same weight and eat the same amount calories until they decide to try something new.  Adam eats 150 calories less per day while Brad eats 150 more calories per day.  After the book explains a lot of math, the result is astonishing.  After 31 months, Adam lost 33.5 pounds while Brad gained 33.5 pounds.  Keep in mind that 31 months is like 2.5 years.

Let’s take a monetary example.  My friend is an avid smoker.  I tried to get him to stop but that didn’t work.  He smokes 2 packs a week.  At the cost of around $5 per pack, he spends $10 per week on his smoking habit.  When you take into account 52 weeks per year, he spends $520 per year on his smoking habit.

So if you are trying to gain or lose weight, do actions like eat more calories per day.  If you want to buy something expensive save a little money every day.

In order to document my life, I not only write in this blog weekly, but have a daily action too.  Since the January 1st, I having been writing in a journal daily.  There’s no better way to document my life than by writing a journal entry every day. And no, those will not be posted online.

4)      Mix It Up With Themed Months

By now you probably are sold on the idea of consistency and daily actions.  Great, I did my job.  I love daily actions, but it starts to feel like a chore as time goes on.  This is where the idea of Themed Months comes in.  It breaks the resolutions into fun, manageable parts.

A big goal like losing X amount of pounds seems intimidating.  With a goal like that, you plan on dieting right away while changing your daily routines to make time for exercise.  For most people, a big change like that is hard to sustain.  But if you break up your resolution into Themed Months, you will start to look forward to the months.  A month is the perfect amount of time for interested, sustained action and change.  Plus, there are already timelines set for you (it’s month long).  In the case of losing X amount of pounds, I would incorporate daily actions everyday but change some of the actions depending on the theme.  For example, the daily action for January would be to do 3 sets of 15 jump squats per day.  Simple.  And I would call it Jump Squat January.  Or something like that.

Make it fun.  Give the Themed Months a creative name.  It will help motivate you to do the action.

Back in 2012, I had a Themed Month called “April Showers”.  That year I wanted to become stronger Physically, Mentally, and Spiritually.  So in April I focused on my self-image and how I viewed my body.  Of course, we all have our insecurities, but I wanted to feel comfortable in my own skin.  I still kept some year-long daily actions like exercising, but I included an April daily action: take showers with the door open.

Nope.  Not just unlocked, but open.  The door was open for the world to see.

By the end of the month, I was definitely comfortable being naked.  From time to time, I still leave the door open when showering.

5)      Don’t Be Afraid to Edit Your Resolutions

Sometimes we find out that the resolutions we set for ourselves were actually unrealistic.  Other times a new career or responsibility has taken over and you don’t have the time and/or energy to work on your resolutions.  You have two options:

1)      Keep going and try to do it

~or~

2)      Edit your resolutions

Ok.  Maybe setting the goal of going to the gym twice a day for 7 days a week was pushing it.  Some people do it, but you just can’t manage it with all your other responsibilities.  Keep exercising and edit your resolution.

Ok. Maybe setting the goal of being more creative and painting 50 art pieces was not what you expected.  But through a Themed Month, you found out that you love to sculpt.  Keep doing that artsy thing you do and edit your resolution.

It’s okay to edit your resolutions once in a while.  I do it.  Sometimes that week of planning wasn’t enough to predict the situations that happen later down the year.  But there is a difference between quitting and editing.

Happy Jumpstart January.

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