Tips for Setting Realistic New Year’s Resolutions
Do you make a New Year’s resolution on that last day of the year, every year? Does it work for you? It’s been a long, long time since I have tried that. I just end up feeling disappointed in myself… “Weak, weak, weak! Why can’t you be more determined?” Part of the problem, at least for me, is that those broken resolutions tended to be unrealistic and vague. “I’m gonna lose 30 lbs!” “I’ll never eat chocolate again!”
Maybe there’s some peer pressure there, that last-minute despair to do or be better….
So, I don’t do it anymore. At least not at midnight with a glass of wine propped on my head! However, I do find that January is always a good month for me to look back and then forward, to evaluate and then to set some goals, things that I might actually accomplish in the upcoming year. Here are some tips on how to set realistic New Year’s resolutions, ones that will make you feel good the next time around. I’ve peppered the post with comments from our TAFA members…
Click on the images to visit their profiles.
1. Review the Past Year
- If you keep a calendar, start at the beginning of the year and flip through, reminding yourself of what you did, where you went and try to remember how it felt. Did you enjoy it? Did you learn something new? Would you like to repeat it? Write things down: I liked this, I definitely don’t want to do this…
- Look at your stats. Get into the back-end of your blog, website or social media sites. What worked? What did people respond to? What would you do again?
- What were the high and low points? What made you really happy? What do you wish you could just forget about? Try to pinpoint not only the event, but trigger points that made something good or bad for you. How can you get more of the good and less of the bad? Write them down.
2. Look at Long Term Goals
Instead of planning the next year out right away, let yourself dream a bit. Where do you want to be ten years from now? This can be about health, business, relationships, or anything else that you would like to see happen for yourself. New Year’s resolutions are usually about something that we want to fix. We want it to happen right away. But, what if we look down the road and try to imagine what life could be like given our current health, wealth and talent? What is blocking success to that goal?
Break it down into achievable chunks!
Example 1: You are 50 lbs overweight. If you lose 5 lbs a year, you will be at your goal in 10 years. Do a little research. What is your normal calorie intake? How many calories do you burn on an average day? What one thing could you do to lose those five lbs a year? Preferably something that you would enjoy, that makes you happy. For me, it is walking my dogs. If I extend my daily walk for 10 extra minutes, I am helping both them and myself.
Example 2: You would like to be an established artist who can make a living doing your work. Let’s assume that people already like your work, but that you just don’t make enough of it. What does “making a living” mean? Look down those ten years again. Do you own your own house? Are you able to travel? What would success feel like? How much do you need to make in each of those ten years to get there? Let’s say you make quilts. How many must you have on hand in order to have steady sales? Is your pricing in the right range? Do you need to have different price points? How many quilts do you have to make in a year to sustain your lifestyle and to move toward your future goals? After you have done some thinking, researching, and soul-searching, come up with some set numbers: six quilts that are exhibit quality, twenty small quilts, and fifty pillows, purses and other smaller items a year would do it. How does that break down into a month? How many hours a day do you have to sew to get there? Does that picture look satisfying?
Example 3: You want to learn a new language, but never have the time to take classes. We have so many tools online now that there really is no excuse to not do something because we don’t want to sit through a class… Start with finding a kid’s program or music channel in that language and listen to it for an hour a day while you do something where you don’t have to think. Let your ears get used to the sounds of that language. Learn five new words a day. Over time, you will start recognizing words and in ten years you could be fluent!
The point is that if you have a dream, a goal, a desire… it’s 90% likely that you can achieve that over time. It won’t happen today or tomorrow, but breaking it down into chunks that work for you will move you in that direction.
3. Resolutions for the Year
Once you have your long-term vision clear in your head, break it down into five or ten phases. One of those will be the upcoming year. Map it out!
Take a sheet of paper for each month, label it at the top with the month, then outline those goals that you set for yourself that are your monthly goals. Then, think about what holidays, what seasons and what routine events shape that month for you each year. How will that affect your goals? Can you plan ahead for it? Catch up in the next month?
For example, I have a vegetable garden. Every year I am surprised by Spring. It’s cold and miserable and boom! Everything is growing and I didn’t get my seedlings done, once again. My head just can’t wrap itself over how quickly Spring arrives here. If I write it down and have it in front of me, will I work on those seedlings in February this year? Well, I’m going to try….
Looking at your months, think about last year. What can you repeat that was good? What can you do differently? Note them down on your monthly pages. These will remind you all year of what to reinforce and what to avoid.
Create daily practices that make sense for you. Break them down into the areas that you want to see work done. Treat them as a job and analyze throughout the year if they are worth doing. For example, social media sites can be a huge time sucker. Pick up to three where you will invest your time, but have a strategy about it. If you abandon any sites, blogs, or places, either delete them or inform viewers of where they can find you.
4. Bend with the Wind
My personal motto is that the tree that bends with the wind is the tree that will not break. Life is in constant flux. You can have all the goals you want, your ten years mapped out, and then get hit with a whammy or simply not be happy about what you thought was going to make you happy. There are health issues, natural disasters, failed relationships, or even just subtle changes that can make what was once a dream seem empty and irrelevant. I tried that exercise once, of figuring out how many things I needed to make a month in order to make a living through my sewing. I made quilts, bags, hats, and purses. I would do a run of around 40 of a similar type of thing, photograph them, list them on Etsy, put them in different places on consignment, wholesale some… I met my goals, things sold, and part of me really enjoyed. The other part screamed and hated it. I found that I wanted sewing to be fun for me and doing it that way, wasn’t.
I also never thought that I would end up in Kentucky. When I left Chicago (ten years ago now!), I knew that I wanted to go South, somewhere warmer. My list of wants were: near water, ability to grow things, a porch with a rocking chair, a house, a yard for my dogs, cheap rent, short winter, internet access, good hospitals, a liberal church, and nice people. I got it all here in Paducah. Will I be here ten years from now? I don’t know. That same bucket list holds true, but it could be somewhere else. It could be Africa, Mexico, South America… It could be here. I live in an old, rickety house, so I would like that to change. Either a different house or this one needs to be fixed. So, my ten-year plan includes insulation! 🙂
If you are an artist or run a small business, it’s very hard to plan far into the future. So many things change so quickly with technology, world events and with culture. We face immense problems in the world that will continue to affect us and which will make themselves ever more critical in terms of our lifestyle and ability to live a life of affluence or opportunity that our parents might have had. Still, we also have great tools and a community of problem solvers that seeks solutions for those issues. I think that those who are flexible and who can bend with the wind will find life more fulfilling.
To have a resolution is to have the ability to problem solve. Having goals and dreams for the future allows us to live life with intention, instead of just letting life happen to us. So, you have look ahead, to plan, to figure out what the challenges are for you and then you have to plow ahead with resolve. As you move forward, live in the moment. Enjoy each day to its fullest. Look back and learn from the past. Step, change, move, envision, embrace, mutate…………. it’s that wonderful weaving that we call LIFE!
Seize the Day!
Here are a couple of links to some more thoughts on looking at the new year and possibly the resolutions that go with it in a new way:
A post on weaving more creatively by Cally Booker, one of our members. Written by her for Craftsy.
A blog Cally follows, Cultural Enterprise Office.
A weekly digest that I follow, Brain Pickings, on 15 resolutions from famous people.
“Setting goals is easy – working towards them not so easy! I find the simplest way is always best. Start by writing down the goal then, breaking it down into parts, then smaller parts, then smaller, then smaller still. THEN, start working on those tiny parts. Bit by bit, day by day, artworks get done, photos get taken, descriptions get written, shows are completed and so on. It sounds trite, but really the key is making work a habit, even the “boring” work. Just like passing the cookie jar and reaching in is a habit, so is doing the work. Mind over matter, folks, mind over matter.” -from our LinkedIn Group, Carmen Alana Tibbets
What about you? Do you have any tips on how to set realistic New Year’s resolutions? What works or doesn’t for you? Do leave a comment if you would like to contribute to the conversation. And, follow our blog in the sidebar so that you get our future posts by email! We have a lot of good stuffed planned for this year. We are resolved to do it! 🙂