New Years' Resolutions

Are you thinking about a Resolution for the New Year?  If you follow the trends, yours could be one of the top choices year after year:

  • Get in shape
  • Eat healthier
  • Lose weight
  • Spend more time with family and friends
  • Get organized
  • Find a mate or get married
  • Get a new job
  • Volunteer

These are all worthy aspirations but in my opinion, none of them cuts the mustard as a promising Resolution for 2012.  For me, a Resolution has to be specific and actionable, some behavior that I can do every day or every week.  It needs a time frame, a quantifier and tangible items.

Get in Shape:  This becomes doable if instead your Resolution is to exercise 30 minutes/day at least 3 times per week.  You can put the dates on the calendar each month and identify which exercise activities you enjoy most -- riding your bike, playing DDR, doing yoga, whatever.  "Get in Shape" is the outcome but how to do it makes for a more productive Resolution.

Eat Healthier:  Another lofty goal and essential for feeling good and avoiding many health crises.  But how about "Cook dinner from scratch 4 times a week" or "Eat 7 servings of fruits and vegetables every day".  Those are easier to achieve, easier to monitor and require daily activities.  Each of them reduces the junk food going into your body without using shame as a method.

Lose Weight:  I wouldn't choose an amount of weight to lose to make this specific.  Instead, focus on the behavior you want to change:  diet or fitness (see above) perhaps.  If calories are your measurement, perhaps a Resolution to carefully monitor how many calories you eat throughout January and reduce the amount by 10% every day in February.  You don't control the scale so don't set a weight goal.  Everything we know about diets tells us that diets don't work in the long term; your body will fight you.  But we can make sure we don't add any additional weight and improve what we eat, how much and how active we are.

Spend Time with Family and Friends:  Get specific.  "Make one phone call every week to someone I haven't talked to in a while."  "Institute Family Wednesdays in our household when we do something together each evening." "Organize two parties or BBQs during the year and invite all my favorite people."  

Get Organized:  If you're not organized, the Resolution won't change your essential nature.  But a specific organizational task should be doable.  "Clean out my sock drawer." "File or toss all the papers left in the printer."  "Buy bins for the pantry and label them."  "Every time I buy something new, get rid of something old."

Find a Mate:  Good luck with that.  Might as well say "Get better looking".  Just kidding.  If you're a serious male, my advice is to begin volunteering.  Most of the volunteers I know are women.  You'll meet lots of bright, purposeful women in the non-profit world.  If you're a woman, get active -- golf, tennis, hiking, rafting, cycling.  But then, why ask me?  I've been married 40 years.  Not a clue how that world works.

Get a New Job:  Too pie-in-the-sky.  You could get a new job at minimum wage but I imagine your goal is more specific.  Commit to particular actions:  volunteer more and show what you can do; update your resume and hand-carry it to one employer each week; tell  friends and family that you're looking for a job and ask for their help.

Volunteer:  Now you're talking.  I love this one.  No matter what your interest is -- children's issues, construction, sports, social services, food issues, politics or community development -- there are organizations near you that could use your help.  Call them up and offer your service.  Or better yet, show up at an event they're organizing and jump in with both feet.  This is the easiest resolution of all.  Once you've let organizations know you'd like to help, all you have to do from then on is say "yes" when they ask.  Easy peasy.

Mine?  I will continue one of last year's Resolutions, modify the other one somewhat and add a new one.
  • I'll continue my Resolution to eat 9-10 servings every day of fruits, vegetables and proteins.  That works to reduce the carbs and junk since I can't both meet the Resolution and find room for all that other stuff. 
  • Last year I resolved to write in this blog once a week.  Did well until December (ditto with Resolution #1).  I'm revising that to write 3000 words per week.  That includes this blog but also my other writing project that has barely gotten off the ground.  Serious writers write 1000 words a day.  Guess I'm not that serious.  
  • My new Resolution will be to write 3 thank you cards every week.  Would try for 1 a day but want to be sure I can succeed.
Good luck with your Resolutions.  Keep in mind they needn't last a full year.  There are other New Year's Days coming up:  Chinese New Year in February, Persian New Year in March, Jewish New Year in September and more.  Try a Resolution between now and Chinese New Year.  Eminently doable.