Set Non-Traditional Resolutions

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Happy New Year, friends!  
It's a new day, week, month, year!  How will you make 2012 a good year for you?

I'll start by congratulating the winners of the EverStride Skincare sweepstakes: Electra won the foot cream, and Suz gets the anti-chafing sport stick.  Congratulations!

Now, let's get down to new-year business.  Writing goals and setting "SMART" goals, we've covered in previous posts.  But what about "resolutions"?  Do you set them?  Keep them?  Give them up?  It's true that January 1 is an arbitrary date to start a new habit or change your lifestyle, but if it gives a sense of a clean slate, by all means, let's take advantage and make some plans for the new year.

I think that having "goals" instead of "resolutions" is a good idea, because goals are something you work toward and don't have to give up on if you fall behind schedule.  Resolutions may feel too "all or nothing," which is one reason many people simply give up.  So go ahead and think about what you'd like to accomplish in the coming month or coming year, and create a plan to make it happen.  (Write it down, set a timeline, prepare the tools you'll need, etc.)   Do your best, work toward your goal, and eventually, you will succeed.

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For those of you who have given up on resolutions entirely--and I know you're out there--try this out: instead of setting a monumental resolution, pick something easy.  Make your resolution something that you know you CAN do, just to prove to yourself that change IS possible.  For example, In September, I took advantage of the Jewish New Year to set a resolution to make my bed every morning.  I used to make my bed, but fell out of the habit when I knew very few people were seeing my bedroom and I could always make it pretty when necessary.  I wanted to get back in the habit of having a made bed to get into every night, to never be embarrassed when a surprise guest sees my unmade bed.  So, I "resolved" to make my bed, however casually, every morning.  No, I don't take 10 full minutes to tuck in every corner, to pile on fancy pillows, to smooth out every crease, but I do make the effort to, after brushing my teeth, come back and pull up the sheets, smooth it out, and straighten the pillows.  Really, no so difficult.  It was a habit I was unquestionably capable of taking on, and it's been nice crawling into a made bed every evening.  It wasn't a huge feat and took almost no effort to make this resolution a reality, and it showed me that I'm able to change my habits and incorporate new rituals into my routine, when I set my mind to do so.

SO: If you're sick and tired of "failing" at your resolutions, take this opportunity to pick something simple and doable you'd like to start (or stop) doing. Prove that you CAN.  Want to try meditation or yoga daily?  You don't have to commit an hour--just schedule 5 minutes either in the morning or at bedtime to start the habit.  Want to remember to floss daily?  Keep your floss in sight, beside the sink, and maybe stick a small calendar beside it so you can check it off each day.  Want to save money for a large purchase?  Commit to putting away just a small amount each week (how much would depend on your own finances), and watch the money add up over time.  Want to start exercising?  You don't have to commit to an hour at the gym daily; you can just start with 10 minutes of walking a day, or vow to hold a 30-second plank or perform 10 pushups each morning.  Want to read more books?  Commit to reading for just 10 minutes before bed each night.  (Chances are, you'll read much longer.)  Want to eat more fruit?  Start with just one apple a day.

Choose something you WANT to do; not something you feel like you should do.  Make a little change, tweak your routine, commit just one, five, or ten minutes to some activity or behavior you wish you would do, and make it your resolution.  Soon, it'll become habit, and you'll have kept your New Year's resolution when 2013 rolls around.  

What small (but significant) changes can you make in your life?

Beyond setting do-able resolutions, there are plenty of
OTHER alternatives to setting traditional resolutions:

  • Set weekly goals or rules to live by. The goal-journal Fitbook lets you make a 12-week goal, but encourages you to set goals each week in the realms of weight, fitness, nutrition, or anything else you may want to accomplish in the week.  Short-term successes add up to long-term victory! 
  • Set monthly resolutions, like Shannon.  She set four year-round resolutions for 2012, but also chose one mission for each month of the year, such as learning to draw, stop saying "like," volunteering, and cleaning out and organizing her home.  Having a different focus for each month will keep your resolutions fresh and exciting.
  • Choose three words to act as your pillars for the year, to guide your choices.  This gives you perspective and priorities, but doesn't dictate exactly what you should or shouldn't be doing.  Every winter, Chris Brogan challenges people to forego resolutions for 3 simple words to define their goals and experiences for the coming year.  Identify a passion you'd like to nurture in 2012, what you'd like to be different, who you'd like to be, and summarize it in three words to encompass your ambitions and guide your decisions. 
  • Do you have other ideas to supplement a year-long resolution?
For any of these that you may choose, setting goals by the week, month, or year, be sure to write it down and have a method for keeping track of progress.  Share your hopes and your successes.  Celebrate short-term achievements on your path to long-term happiness. 


Some healthy ideas to work toward in this new year:  eat 6-8 servings of fruits & vegetables daily, get at least 7 hours of sleep nightly, stay hydrated with at least 8 glasses of water a day, eat sitting down at a table, stretch few a few minutes each morning or each night, meditate, spend less time online, spend more time reaching out to friends and family... the possibilities are endless.   Here are 26.2 ways to get fit and healthy in 2012, via FitFluential.  Also check out FitSugar's tips for sticking with your exercise plan

Personally, I'll be doing some mix of all the above.  I really like the idea of monthly resolutions, so I'll be doing some of that.  I'll post about these throughout the year, because resolutions shouldn't be shared only on January 1 !!

  • I'll continue making my bed each morning, and stretching each night before bed.  
  • In December, I started striving for my recommended 6-8 daily servings of fruit & vegetables, and was successful in all but two days of the month. I'll continue that into the new year, along with getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night and drinking enough water (never a problem for me).
  • I aim to run at least 3 times each week to improve my endurance and to meet my goal of running 600 miles by the year's end.  
  • I'll also be adding into the mix some dietary changes: reduce added sugar intake, reduce dairy consumption, and eat meals sitting at a table.   
  • I also plan to do some major life/home cleanout action: cleaning, minimizing, organizing, and finally make the scrapbooks I've been putting off.  
Now you know!  Don't worry, I've got journals for tracking these habits! And you should, too!  I'll let you know how it all goes.

Join me in Tara Burner's Just Do It January challenge.  I did her "Fit for 2012" challenge in December, so I'm geared up for this month, which is much more demanding but, you know I can't turn down a challenge.  Plus, her own spreadsheet makes tracking each day very simple.  I dare you to sign up, too!   Specifically, I stroooongly dare you to get your daily servings of produce.  Check out Cooking Light's 12 Ways to Eat More Vegetables and Fruit for ways to sneak more nutrients into every meal.

What are your resolutions for 2012?  What would you like to accomplish, what habits will you adopt, what habits will you give up?  Be sure to share your ambitions; it'll keep you accountable!  

Now that you've got all those options to choose from, I dare you to set some healthy goals, resolutions, plans for the new month or year.  Good luck, and happy new year.

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