It’s time. The northern hemisphere has gotten to its most dark point. The Winter Solstice approaches. (Hallelujah!) And soon after we’ll see the beginning of 2012, which means parties, midnight kisses and a new year filled with resolutions.
If you’re the type to make New Year’s resolutions, I’ve decided to weigh in on my tips and tricks for your benefit.
What makes me an expert? I guess because in the past four years I have made more positive, permanent changes in my life than I did with the rest of the decade I ‘ve had as an adult.
I think I’ve figured a few things out. I want to share them with the world and now is the perfect time. So while you make your resolutions, here are a few things to keep in mind.
- Make your goals quantifiable. Saying you want to be in shape or want to eat more healthfully is a tough bill to fill. What does that even mean? Make it about numbers. Go to the gym four times a week. Eat three pieces of fruit a day. Drink six glasses of water every 24 hours. The first New Years resolution I kept was flossing once a day. It makes it easier to keep track of and congratulate yourself for. Which reminds me …
- Reward yourself. Give yourself motivators. Mice will run through a maze faster if there’s cheese at the end. Maybe you get a massage after a month of working out? Or a new gadget after a month of keeping up with your food plan? After more than two years of quitting smoking, I still buy myself little treats.
- Start small. For your first change of the year, choose a resolution you know won’t cramp your lifestyle too much. Maybe it’s starting a savings account and putting $10 in a week. Or maybe it’s writing a letter every two weeks to friend. You want to give yourself hope and excitement about the fate of rest of your resolutions. Like I said, mine was flossing. Easy peasy.
- It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Thinking about quitting caffeine, getting fit and rehauling your finances this year? Spread out the challenges, especially the big ones. Too much change (even good change) is exhausting. And when you’re tired, you’re more likely to slip. And when you do …
- Be kind to yourself. Notice I didn’t say if you do; I said when you do. We all make mistakes and, as the saying goes, old habits die hard. Boy, do they ever. Four months after my last cigarette I about assaulted a friend who tried to stop me from lighting up. (Thanks for taking one for the team Kaleen.) When you slip, forgive yourself and move on.
- Have a plan. I keep talking about resolutions, plural-like. 2012 is a long year, and it needs a road map. New Year’s Resolutions aren’t just all about January. What would you like to accomplish in one week? One month? Three months? Six? Break it down and suddenly big projects aren’t so huge. I wrote a book in a month. I’m editing it in three. I hope to publish in a year.
- Find a support system. No one should go it alone. It can be done, but it’s just no fun! Working out with my girlfriends made it a social engagement, not a chore. I quit smoking with my friend Iain. I wrote a book with Nanowrimo. I belong to a group that tries a new challenge every 30 days. (You can join here.)
- Don’t give up. If taking control of your 401k seemed like a good idea until months later, when you still don’t get it and aren’t having any fun with it, let it go. Not every idea works right away. Put it in your back pocket. I’ve been wanting to compost since 2006, and it didn’t happen until last month.
- Brag. Brag. Brag. I don’t care if you’re the most modest person on the planet. When you’re making positive change in your world, you’re allowed to talk about it. You’ll inspire people, trust me. Did I mention I wrote a book? Oh, twice already? Kinda makes you wanna write yours, doesn’t it?
- Have fun. Change is inherently stressful; the words have practically the same definition. So dance to the music in grocery store. Go rollerskating. I added a client to my workload (a goal of mine but stressful) and so I rode a roller coaster. Life is supposed to be a good time, even when it’s tough.
I wish you all the best for your changes in 2012. The thought that inspired the beginning of all of my change was I want to be the best person I’ve ever been. Are there changes on your horizon? What are your resolutions? May 2012 be your best year yet!