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2020 finally came to an end, and 2021 is now upon us. For many of us, a new year means resolutions. Those goals we make, stick to like glue for a week or two, then abandon. It's a common trend.
I used to make New Year's resolutions as well. From the time I was a little kid, my resolution was always to stop biting my nails. I'm still waiting on that to happen... I remember making various other resolutions to myself, and I'm fairly certain that exactly none of them ever stuck.
So, what's a girl to do when those resolutions just don't stick? Stop making them! Yep, you read that right. Quit putting all that pressure on yourself. If you're ready to make a plan you might actually stick with, please read on.
Why do we make resolutions to begin with?
That's pretty straightforward- we want to change something about ourselves or our lives, so we choose the new year to begin, well, anew. Some people make significant changes in their lives at any point, and others enjoy waiting till the new year. There's no right or wrong way, it's totally up to you.
While I understand that you can set goals and make changes at any time, I love having that new year as a "start date." I'm not sure why, just something about it makes me feel refreshed and motivated.
What's the problem with resolutions?
While there is not necessarily anything wrong with making resolutions, it isn't a great idea for everyone. Some people make resolutions only to stress excessively about them when they fail. Why put that sort of pressure on yourself? Starting the year off (especially this year, when 2020 caused so much more stress than a typical year) feeling pressured isn't good for anyone.
CNET published a great article that touches on this very thing. Dr. Lazarus, a psychologist that contributed to the article, notes that people rarely stick to resolutions. The stress and disappointment that result can be counterproductive and simply make things worse. If your end goal is to feel better about yourself and your life, doesn't it seem counter intuitive to set yourself up for failure?
If you are the type of person that makes and sticks to a resolution or two each year, that's awesome. If not, check out an option that just might work better for you- planning and simple goal setting.
Resolutions? Goals? What's the difference?
A resolution is generally very targeted and specific, whereas a plan and goal each give you a bigger picture of where you want to be by the end of the year. While the end result might be the same, it's our perception of them that changes their effectiveness and our ability to stick with them.
Making a long term plan for the overall year can be easier to stick to than a single resolution. If your resolution is to go to the gym three times a week, and by week three you've already missed four days, you're going to feel discouraged. It's a binding resolution that you feel pressured to keep and stressed out over when you don't.
Instead, try making an overall goal to get healthier in 2021. If going to the gym is your thing, sure, try to get there a couple of times each week. But aim for a combination of things such as taking a short walk several times each week, eating out less, cooking healthier at home, adding a short workout routine in your home, et cetera. These are smaller "bites" that feel easier to stay in control of. You might find it easier to stick to as well.
How do you go about making these plans?
There won't be one specific answer to this, because all of our plans will be specific to our own goals. Mine, for example, is to maximize my time usage. I'll elaborate on that in a minute.
A good place to start with any plan is to get organized. If your plan is to write more, set aside a spot dedicated to writing, with all the things you'll need, and block out some time each day to spend in "your happy place." If your goal is to eat healthier, purge your pantry of junk food, replace it with healthier snacks, and compile a bunch of recipes that you can throw together in a hurry. You'll be more likely to stay on track when your task doesn't always seem like a ton of extra work.
Another important factor is to find support. Make sure those closest to you are informed of your plan. They can act as cheerleaders, helping you stay on track. A simple, "hey let's take a walk" from your significant other might be just the nudge you need. When we feel supported in our causes, we're much more likely to stick with them.
Don't make your plan too restrictive or binding. The goal is to find a plan that helps you feel energized and excited about what you are doing. If you wake up each day dreading what you have planned, your plan is probably not going to work. You'll find yourself back in that "I failed" pattern of thinking with a quickness. Create a plan that will fit into your life, not one that changes everything about it.
Want an example?
Back to my resolution, which is to maximize my time usage. I'll share my plan for 2021 to make that happen. I have big goals for this year. I'm trying to grow a small business, grow The Butterbean Legacy, and I hope to get Sadie's Purpose, our nonprofit, off the ground. But my other responsibilities as mom, wife, and teacher to my kids don't go away. So how to manage it all?
Again, it starts with getting organized. I've got my beautiful day planner (Katie Daisy * from Amazon, it's seriously the best) and I plan out the week each Sunday. I write down the dates and times of my kids' live classes, any conferences with their teachers, any of the family's doctor/dental appointments, and any other "can't miss" events.
Once I've got those essential things filled in, I know what sort of time I have left for other things. From there I can add an hour a day to work on my blog, another hour to work on some housework, and block out time for calls regarding my business. Do things have to change? Well of course, sometimes things just happen. But it helps me enter my week feeling in control.
I've also got a great network. My family supports what I do. My husband helps out however he can, and our kids know that if I'm in my office I'm working, and only to interrupt if they need something. It helps me stay motivated to know that I have such strong support.
I realize we're all different, and this plan won't work for everyone. But if you're like me and you don't respond well to the pressure of a resolution, this might be worth a shot. 2020 was tough, there's no doubt about that. 2021 is decidedly uncertain. So why don't do we do what we can to control those things we're capable of controlling? If we maintain control over at least those areas of our lives, we can have a productive and happy year!
What are your strategies for getting ahead in 2021? Please share them in the comments, I'd love to hear them.