2010 is at the gates. What is our new year resolution? Do we really need one? How to better articulate the resolution and stick to it? There is always room for improvements, and some of such improvements do make a difference in our lives and for our beloved ones. Here and now are the only place and time where we can act, it is one of our recurrent themes. So, do you see any better time than the starting of a new year to achieve goals?
The keystones for success are: balancing quantitative and qualitative goals; sharing our goals with other people, ideally 8 or so; setting milestones along the way; rewarding ourselves and having a plan B for sporadic deviation from original goal.
Balancing quantitative and qualitative goals
If we set new year resolutions, we should balance broad benefits with precise goals. An example: if our resolution is to eat healthy, we do need to define what we mean with healthy. Otherwise, it is not easy to tell if we are respecting our decision. At the same time, even if we decide that eating healthy for 2010 means eating organic at least three times per week, but then once per week we eat junk food, than we can achieve the specific measureble goal, but not the overall benefits.
Our new year resolution may be living 2010 in a more holistically way. We can break it down in specific goal(s):
Aware (Being): when we feel emotional about a topic, dedicate at least five seconds to breathing, becoming aware of our feelings and also trying to understand others’
Meditating: meditate for 10 minutes each night before going to sleep
Active (Being): walk at least 30 minutes, at least 3 times per week
Respectful (Being): stop using some words we identified as inappropriate, and visit a senior relative at least twice per month
Eating (properly): eat organic at least 3 days per week, and limit unhealthy food to no more than two meals per month
Shouldn’t we focusing on one goal per year? 100%? Well, if we want to become a skating champion, earn a PhD in Phisycs and start a restaurant, then yes: we definitly have to make a clear choice and focus on one goal. But if we are taking mutually reinforcing commitments or at least realistically compatible (ex.: eating healthy, taking a class on Raw Foods, supporting local farmers, having at least two lunch meals per week with a friend instead of rushin in and out from work, etc.), then a… holistic approach to new year improvements is a winning approach.
Sharing our goals with other people, ideally 8 or so
Walking alone may, sometimes, be faster. But this benefit doesn’t beat the joy of sharing the path with people we care for. Also, having journey companions makes easier to keep us motivated, especially when it is time to renounce something we liked but whose lasting side-effects are overwhelming compared to short-term gratification. What about bringing on board more people? Our suggestion is to share our resolutions with 8 people, roughly divided as 3 family members, 3 close friends, 2 people with whom we connect well but see only a few times per week, like at the gym etc. Usually, the more public we are about our commitment, the more determined we are in keeping it because, well, we may be tempted to take a holiday from our goals, but we care about these 8 people think about us and so we’ll go the extra mile (literally, if our commitment is to run regularly) to live up to our words.
Usually, it is even better if some of these 8 people are willing to share their own resolution with us, or if they have some experience dealing with a similar situation themselves. But, at the end, the most important part if that they care about us and will be there to support us once the initial enthusiasm is not as strong as before.
Setting milestones along the way
Some goals are better if implemented all the way at once. For example, if we want to meditate for 10 minutes before going to sleep, we are better off with starting it from Jan. 1st and stick to it every night, otherwise we’ll be wondering: “on which days did I say I was gonna start meditating?”. Others, are more feasible when divided in smaller steps, because they are more a marathon than a sprint. For example, quit smoking. If that is our resolution, than we should speak with an expert, to minimize the short-term discomfort; also, instead of going from X to 0 in one day, we may reduce quantity on a time-basis. For example: smoke half the amount of cigarettes in Jan, then one quarter in February, then quit totally in March, and stick to it without allowing us any “just one try to remind the old times” pitfall.
Rewarding ourselves (and having a plan B for sporadic deviation from original goal).
Well, so at the end of the first month, we successfully kept our resolution. Let’s celebrate it! Maybe with a slice of our favorite cake, or if our resolution involves food with a movie-night; no matter how we decide to celebrate, let’s try to do it with one of the people who supported us. And, if they are far, we can always have them on Webcam while we enjoy our reward, if possible. We can keep bigger rewards – like a day at the Spa – for the end of the year, and start with some smaller rewards for the first months.
At the same time, there are times when we may really have to make an exception. Time to share some sweets at an office party? Just to show our appreciation, we can have a bit even if our resolution is about sweets. Still, we keep it to a minimum, and have a way to compensate for this: if, once or twice per quarter, we need to break our resolution, than as soon as possible we are going to have a long walk. If we really cannot meditate this night, we’ll do it in the morning and then restart regular practice. It is important to have a way to allow ourselves a small exception, as long as it costs us some reparation. These deviations must be kept to a minimum, and they don’t mean we should give up to non-positive peer-pressure. If our resolution involves intoxicating substances, there should be no exception to our resolution: if we want to quit drinking, and already achieved the time of the year when our drinking allowance should be 0, we stick to it. So we ensure to keep the habit away. People who care for us will understand.
We hope these advices we’ll be helpful to you, even better if you decide to live 2010 the AmAre Way and have a holistic new year resolution instead of a “silver bullet” approach. In any case, best wishes to you and your beloved ones for a great start in 2010!