I make resolutions every year, but in the last few years I’ve had more success with them. Partially this is because I have followed the new prevailing advice that resolutions are more often achieved if they are A) reasonable, and B) defined and scheduled. It doesn’t hurt that I have significantly less stress than I did when I was working, so I have more mental muscle to devote to willpower.
The year that I finally started to shed all the weight was the year that my resolution changed from the ubiquitous and vague “Lose weight” to “Lose 1 pound a week”. I also made a schedule showing where I should be at each week and each month (with an extra “floater” pound in there as a margin of error). Alongside the schedule was a list of non-food rewards at two levels: weekly success and monthly success. Weekly rewards were things like a trip to the thrift store, a long hot soak in the tub, a second-hand CD or book, or some frivolous and cheap drug store makeup. Monthly rewards were things like a trip to the department store (with a gift card I’d been hoarding since Christmas) or a season of a favorite TV show (like Castle) on DVD (because we don’t have TV).
Only a tiny percentage of new year’s resolutions are well and truly kept, but you can up your chances with this sort of micromanagement. So if your resolution list includes, say, “eat healthier” think about what that means to you. Do some research if you don’t really know. Maybe you want to get more veggies in your diet. In that case you could revise your resolution to read “Start having meatless Mondays” or “Eat an extra serving of vegetables a day”. Keep a calendar or a diary (or join an online diet tracking service) to keep track and keep yourself honest. Change “Work out more” to “Do 30 minutes of exercise three times a week”. “Read more” becomes “Read two books a month”. (Obviously, these are just random suggestions.)
Here’s my resolutions for 2014:
- Put money in savings regularly. I’m not going to tell you how often or how much, because I don’t like to discuss money publicly, but this is a rehash of a 2012 resolution. It worked great for a few months and then we had a financial snafu and it all went to hell. Just like with dieting, I had a bad day and undid all my hard work in one fell swoop — and then told myself it was pointless to get back on the horse. I’m getting back on that dumbass pony again this year but I have altered the amount and frequency of my deposits to (hopefully) be more doable. It’s not much but it’s better than nothing. And if I don’t get in the habit sometime I never will.
- Hit my goal weight. Again, I’ve scheduled this for a pound a week, which is something I can do without starving myself or working out — neither of which are reasonable, if I’m being honest with myself.
Off the list this year is getting published. I rode that pony into the ground last year. It was miserably stressful and I don’t think my heart was really in it. Not for freelancing, anyhow. Or, at least, not with the companies I was courting. I love research and essay writing so I may keep looking for a freelance company but I can’t write a short story to save my life and they aren’t widely read anyhow. I’ll keep whanging merrily away on my novels until one of them seems good enough to send off to an agent or publisher, but in the meantime I’m perfectly content to keep writing as a hobby rather than a job.
What are your resolutions for the new year? How do you plan to help yourself keep them? Or — what are you not resolving to do in 2014? (Or resolving to not do, as the case may be.)