In Defense of the Resolution

Office SuppliesIt’s that time of year again! Time for half of my Facebook feed to make statements like, “I don’t do resolutions…it just sets me up for disappointment.”

And I’m here to scream at the top of my lungs: THEN YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!

I mean – maybe not wrong exactly. But, you don’t want to start your year with only the kind of resolutions that can only result in one of two outcomes: Success or Failure. No, you want SOME resolutions that allow you to embrace a trend of improvement.

For example:

Instead of: I resolve to lose 20lbs.
Try: I resolve to eat more whole foods and less processed foods.
I resolve to log my food intake to try to make it consistently come in under what I burn on a daily basis.
I resolve to be more active.

See? Instead of having two options: Lose the weight (SUCCEED!) or don’t (FAIL!) – you have options to recognize an upward trend towards improvement.

Instead of: I resolve to stop yelling at my kids.
Try: I resolve to count to 10 before yelling at my kids.
Or even more generically
I resolve to periodically go against the instinct to yell and try a different approach.

See? This way the first time you yell at your kids you’re not a failure.

Instead of: I resolve to read 100 books in 2014
Try: I resolve to read more in 2014 than I did in 2013.

Now…do you avoid the Pass/Fail resolutions entirely? No way! If you want to run a marathon? Or quit smoking? Or write a book? Those things are sometimes best as pass/fail type resolutions. But – give yourself an accompanying resolution that allows you to trend upwards.

Try: I resolve to write at least 1000 words a week.

(Is that a reasonable amount? I haven no clue. This is why “WRITE A BOOK” has been on my resolution every year since I was old enough to write in complex sentences.)

Try: I resolve to run more this year than last year.

See? You need to set yourself up to see success in improvement throughout the year. Resolve to be more organized by carrying a calendar with you every day. Or by entering dates into your Google calendar. This way if you forget a PTA meeting, you won’t feel like a failure because you’re still trending for the better by using a calendar at all.

I just think that – with me – there are dozens of things I fail at every year. I still haven’t written my book (because I don’t know how many words I should be writing) or lost my Wesley pregnancy weight. But – I try to strive to be better by challenging myself to improvement type tasks: Eat better, run more, etc. This helps keep me from focusing on the fact that 5 New Year’s have come and gone and I still haven’t lost that pregnancy weight.

I think I’ll post my resolutions tomorrow, mainly because I want to steal yours first. What are you resolving to do in 2014?

13 thoughts on “In Defense of the Resolution”

  1. In 2004 I set 104 goals … everything from “go to work every day in a single month” to “write 6 hand written letters.” In 2005, I set 105. In 2006, I set 106, etc.

    I loved to have so many (“buy a little black dress”), but it made me stress out to actually _make the list, so I cut it down by 100 this year; 14. Interestingly enough, “buy a little black dress” is actually on it. 🙂

  2. That’s interesting – it’s taking pass/fail resolutions but simplifying them so there’s nothing but simple action standing in your way. I like it. I actually try to put one thing like that on my weekly TO Do list — things like “Write a letter to that college professor I loved….” or something. If I converted those to one big annual list? I’d feel SUPER accomplished!

  3. I am a huge defender of New Year resolutions. Even if I don’t meet all of my goals, it helps me to actually focus on goals and that is a huge part of it for me. Just having some specific things to focus on makes me feel better. Sometimes I meet them and sometimes not but that just gives me something to strive for the following year.

    I am currently thinking about my list of goals for the new year, but I know one of them is to try to eat cleaner and cut processed foods out of my diet. Not cold turkey, but in baby steps. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…

  4. Two friends and I are trying a Happiness Experiment. We’re starting with health and exercise and adding things each month that are on typical “how to be happy” lists. We’re keeping track of which ones work and which don’t! To stay on top of it, we’re doing weekly morning coffee dates, which happily, is on most lists as “spend time with friends”! So…I guess my goal for 2014 is Find More Happiness!

  5. It sounds that we live in one another’s heads with the To-Do lists. 🙂

    I started bullet journaling a few weeks back but it hasn’t caught on for me yet. I love the principal, but I can’t get my life worked into something that simple when it comes to teaching AND personal life stuff. I’m trying to figure it out …. but I need bigger paper I think! 🙂

  6. I always resolve the behavior, which I can kind of control, not the outcome. The outcome (lost weight, faster running times, cleaner house) is a nice surprise benefit of sticking to the behavior.

  7. I haven’t thought too much about my goals yet. One I am thinking of is to do a little exercise each day such as some sit ups or run up the stairs when I have to take something there. Just a little something to be more active each day. I will let you know if I come up with more, but I really just want to steal yours. 🙂

  8. My resolutions are mostly organizational – to get our will finished (4 years and one additional child after starting it!) and make some sort of master list so that if I get hit by a bus, my husband knows where our money is.

    I’d like to run a couple marathons (and ideally qualify for Boston) but that might need to wait for my kids to get a bit bigger. 7 month olds are not really amenable to their mothers going on long runs!

  9. I think 1000 words a week is very achievable – that’s about 143 words a day if you break it up to seven days a week. It’s also easy to catch up on if you only have say a day or two in the week to make your goal.

    If it helps, my goal will be to write 300 words at least 5 days a week. I just somehow feel better about that than a weekly goal (and I tend to work better when I know on a daily basis just what I need to do).

    I’m planning on writing goals this year (for the first time!) and I’m definitely going to keep your ideas and technique in mind.

  10. i resolve to take better care of myself…which is why i asked for the fitbit force for christmas (and got it!). but the new year is a week away so i’m not wearing it until then! 🙂

  11. I love this. I too struggle with setting “resolutions” and then “failing” at them. I’m definitely going to try wording them differently. Thanks for this!

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