The day after Christmas, and the week following, usually greets me with mixed emotions. When Christmas is over and I leave my hometown, I feel heaviness on my chest and just wish the holidays could have lasted a little longer. For someone who prepares for Christmas all year, it never ceases to amaze me how quickly it passes! And then there is anticipation….
I wonder what the New Year will bring. I hope for exciting things to come our way – and to our family and friends. New Year’s Day feels like a new beginning for me and (I would imagine) for many of you. No matter what happened in this past year, we can take a deep breath and start over fresh. This must be why so many people feel compelled to make New Year’s resolutions.
That energy that comes from the newness of the year makes us feel like we can accomplish great things. And we CAN accomplish great things; but, unfortunately as the upcoming year begins to lose its newness, we tend to lose our focus on those resolutions. I would venture to say that most people have forgotten, or have given up on, their New Year’s resolutions by March.
I’m speaking from experience, because I am one of those “resolutioners.” Even if I don’t declare my resolutions to others, I think about them and I hope that I’ll stick to them. I’ll think about spending more time reading the Bible and in prayer. I’ll think about eating healthier and losing some weight. I’ll think about committing to a workout routine that will make me feel much better. I’ll even think about spending more time with people and joining more volunteer groups. However, each year, I find myself in December, making the same resolutions for the next year. Do you have a similar pattern?
So, I’ve come to a conclusion… I’m stopping New Year’s resolutions – they don’t work. If I make a resolution without a plan of action, I have already resolved to fail. Basically, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. It is great that I want to spend more time reading the Bible and praying, but if I don’t have a plan on how to add them to my routine, my good intentions won’t be enough. The muscles I may be dreaming about now will never develop if I only think about exercising more. There has to be a plan – and along with that plan – a system of accountability.
We’re human and we’re weak. We like to take the easy road. The first step is to verbalize your plan of action and then write it down on paper. Make sure your action plans are SMART:
- Specific – if you can interpret the statement in multiple ways or applications, it’s not specific enough.
- Measurable – Can you tell when your action plan or action step is completed?
- Attainable – Is it possible to do?
- Realistic – Is it probable to do with your current schedule, energy level, relationships, etc.?
- Time-Based – A component that details how often the iteration is occurring.
For example: Let’s say your action plan is to lose weight. If all you put is “lose weight,” you will lose steam quickly. However, if you make it SMART, it may look like this: “My goal is to do cardio exercises for 30 minutes, six days per week, in order to lose one pound per week.” This type of goal is one that is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and has a time component! Since you can measure this, it will likely keep your steam pumping (especially if you are exceeding that goal).
Under each new goal, write steps as to how you plan to complete or continue it. Ask your significant other, or family/friends that know you well, what they think of your action plans. From there, have a few people around you that are willing to keep you accountable and on track when you are tempted to fall off the wagon. We all need each other’s encouragement!
This week, on the way home from visiting my parents, Eric told me some changes he wanted to make in this upcoming year. This beginning of the year talk is not unusual. We usually discuss such things travelling home after Christmas; but, this year he gave me a small item. He told me that when I see him swaying from his new year’s plan to gently and respectfully present him with the item as a way of reminding him not to fall back into old habits. All we have to do now is put our plans on paper, exchange them with each other to make sure they are realistic, and then we’ll be ready to dive into a new year!
Make sure to take some time to share your action plan with your significant other very soon.
What resolutions are you making this year? We’d love to hear about them! We’d also love to hear about your plans for completing them/continuing them! Let’s make 2012 a year of lasting change!
Do you keep making resolutions that you don’t keep? It’s time to change the process.