“With the light of wisdom we leave behind the forest of confusion. With determination, we learn, reflect, and practice.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Happy New Year!
I am writing to you from my bedroom couch, which is covered in a rainbow wool blanket, and I’m looking out my window at the late winter glow signaling the first sunset of the year is on it’s way to us on the West Coast. I had a beautiful NYE where I surfed and then wrote all day, and was honestly brought to tears by gratitude overwhelm for everything 2018 brought, including each painful blip with it’s new revelation. The evening began with a dramatic neon pink and purple kiss-off sunset. Dancing, celebration, and fireworks over the ocean ensued.
There are confetti remnants covering the road I live on today, and it all feels pretty dang good.
I’ve always been a big fan of New Years, loving any excuse to grow, put the past behind and begin anew. I drool over the first page of a new notebook or journal, and got pretty giddy about bedazzling my Many Moons 2019 Lunar planner with stickers and metallic rainbow pens. Who doesn’t love new?
With that said, New Years Resolutions have always held a special place in my heart, and over the years, I have found certain ways to dial in what works for me as far as sticking to resolutions, revisiting past resolutions and why they did or didn’t work, and creating reminders to myself to stay on track, forgive myself, and keep getting back up as the year progresses. I used to make resolutions and forget about them by February, but with trial and error, I now look back on my resolutions from the year before and check them off the list, or see where and why I changed my mind, and understand what didn’t work and why.
It’s so important to be clear on your goals, and why you want them, and to evaluate what worked in the past for you, so here’s three steps to setting up some solid new years resolutions, and some extra tips for sticking to them throughout the New Year, and moving on without beating yourself up when you fail.
Revisit Last Years Resolutions
Ideally, you can look back on a journal where you wrote down some of your Resolutions. Maybe if you don’t keep a journal or a planner (you can start this year!) you can find a social media post, a note in your phone, or a crumbled up post-it in your junk drawer. Try to remember, and see what you accomplished. If you said you wanted to finish writing your book, but didn’t, what got in the way? Was it hours every evening scrolling through your phone, did you over-commit yourself to family and friends or Netflix? Be real, and figure out how you accomplished what you set out to do, or why you didn’t. What were your milestones, how did you prioritize your goal or break it down into steps? Where were your roadblocks, and did you stop there, or find solutions and alternative routes?
It’s also super valuable to take stock of what you did accomplish in the past year, whether you set out to or not, and actually write a list of all the cool things you did. It is a great way to feel like a badass and remind yourself you’ve been up to some cool shit.
Also, was there anything that kept coming up in 2018 you wouldn’t mind kicking to the curb? Bad habits, bad boyfriends, bad form when squatting? What were these things for you, and are they on their way to the curb, or are they still loitering outside, making obscene smooshy faces through the window?
Take stock first.
Find Your Why
If you want to lose 10lbs, why? Is it mostly about trying to measure up to Instagram models, or did you doctor recommend it? Will you be better able to perform a sport you love, or do you want to look good for a Spring wedding? What is the feeling you are trying to capture from your goals? If you want to start your own business, is it because you crave independence and freedom in your work, or because you want to be the boss, and answer to no one but you? Are you in a career that makes you feel like flat soda, and you want more passion in your work?
Getting clear on your whys will help steer your goals in the right direction, and keep you motivated on a deeper level.
Make a Plan
This is very important! While I do believe in going with the flow, and creating from a place of desire over forcing yourself to sit and create, breaking down my goals and writing post-it-note reminders and creating vision boards or images and symbols that I see daily has helped immensely, but nothing has helped more than scheduling. When I see something on my planner/calendar, the desire to check the box is so great I can’t avoid it. And if I don’t do it, I postpone it to a specific alternative date. If it’s just an idea I’m storing in my brain, it’s way too easy to keep hitting the “Remind Me Later” button.
Dedicating specific time slots to your goals is crucial. Make them small, make them attainable and make them consistent and watch what you want manifest before your eyes.
This year, I’m even bringing it back to using an old fashioned day planner to set aside writing goals, a financial plan, and making time for rituals. While I know I’ll give myself free passes as life happens and have to re-schedule from time-to-time, having some regularly scheduled programming keeps me consistent, which has me reaching my goals a lot more quickly than in years past. It’s like an opportunity to get free expedited shipping on that Christmas gift you bought for yourself, why wouldn’t you?
If you put down in your planner, “Workout for 30 minutes” it’s way more approachable and doable than having a goal to get in the best shape of your life this year.
A Few More Tips to Make and Keep Solid New Years Resolutions
- Turn Off Social Media. Put your phone in another room, and vow to honor your goals without distraction.
- Buy a bunch of bright Post-It notes and write reminders and encouragements to your future self (Be gentle and kind in what you say! The idea is that these notes are uplifting, so you associate your goals with positive feelings.) Stick them in your coat pockets, your bag, put them on your mirror or your fridge
- Check In Every Month, and every Three Months. Write a reminder on your calendar, in your planner, or set one on your phone. How are you doing, where can you congratulate yourself, and where can you improve? What’s not working? How can you make accomplishing the steps to achieve your goals more fun and easier? Write it down.
- Expect, Allow, and Forgive Failure. Failure is growth. We learn from failure. I really, truly believe that we can’t learn something new without failing in some way. Make room for it! Stop making it such a big hullabaloo! Kids couldn’t care less about trying something new and failing, but put a room full of adults in a dance class and there’s likely to be at least one panic attack. Go easy on yourself, get back up, and know that you are growing stronger and wiser as you fail.
- Your goals should Light! You! Up! And be a little scary- Steer clear of resolutions that don’t feel good in your gut. The more positive feelings you have around your goals, the more likely you are to stick with them.
- Be lighthearted. Don’t forget to live a little, celebrate, laugh at yourself, be silly, and enjoy your life. Life isn’t all about reaching goals. Don’t forget it.