3 Tools for Better New Years Resolutions

Posted by   Annette on    November 30, 2013


I am a great lover of lists.

I love checklists, spreadsheets, calendarsonline clip-and-file systemsagendas and callsheets. That, of course, makes December just about my favorite month. This end-of-year time -- that sacred moment of introspection between what you are now and what you see yourself becoming tomorrow -- presents the opportunity to make some seriously life-changing lists.

But, you see: there's a better way to approach it than the way you may be accustomed to. Try sumpin' new this year.

1. Before you build on top of the mess, take time to deconstruct.

Resolutions have a tendency to be uncommittably broad: along the lines of "be a better partner," "lose weight," "make more money," etc. These are generally too metrics-light not to blow away with the first puff of challenge. On the other hand, hyper-specific resolutions crack under the strain of their own rigidity.

Your task in this moment is to use the lessons of the past to determine the few waypoints that matter the most to you and, simply, to plot a course that will lead you there. That course should allow plenty of room for detour, exploration and digression.

It should also reveal to you how your goals are related--as the most important parts of your life always, invariably, are--so you can move towards them simultaneously.

Chris Guillebeau's template for an Annual Review does all of the above. It's hard work, but it's an awesome place to start. I can't recommend it highly enough.

2. It's not about metrics. It's about feelings.

Chris's Annual Review will give you lots of action items to tackle, but remember: The real-life effects you're trying to manifest have nothing to do with metrics and everything to do with feelings.

Sound like oatmeal-crunching hippie bullshit? Ain't. Think about it: if you're fifteen pounds lighter by March but you still feel dumpy, lethargic and unsexy, you have gained nothing. If you feel brilliant, sexy and engaged, nobody cares about your thighs. I promise. The same is true of the money you take home, the badassery of your athletic pursuits and just about everything else you could scribble down as a "resolution."

Try this: find the feelings first. Chase those. Danielle LaPorte's Core Desired Feelings worksheet will point you in the right direction. I keep mine written down and tucked into my wallet, and they make me smile every time I look at them -- 'cause they're the compass that drives my life, and I love where they're leading me.

3. Mindful, ongoing change can be delicious. Savor each bite.

It's not about a boozily wistful conversation at 10PM on December 31st. It's about how every moment you live should be a well-considered choice.

Your process of ideation should start right about now, when the mall-courtyard Christmas trees still smell fresh and the Santa Clauses underneath aren't yet looking manic and wilted.

It should take time.

It should feel good.

It should have a delicious, lingering hopefulness about it, and should engender lots of excited conversations in the coming weeks.

For all the thundering brainlessness of the season, this month is about the moment of the solstice: an acknowledgement of where we've been, accompanied by a hefty helping of wiggly excitement. After all, the sun is magically going to start coming back -- and we can get in on that, if we decide to accept the challenge and rise with it.