Monday, January 1, 2018

How to Make a Resolution You Will Keep

I remember the first year of my marriage coming in with my list and proudly showing my husband all the things that I and we were going to accomplish this year (yes, I had my goals and couple goals).  I said, "Where's your list?"  He looked at me blankly and said, "I don't have a list."

"How can you not have a list???" I was too dumbstruck by this to even be sarcastic about it.

So after a minute he replies, "Well, let's see....How about we try a new restaurant every month.  Drink champagne at least once a month, and I will play golf more, say once a week or go to the driving range."

"What the hell kind of list is that?  That's all fun stuff. Those aren't real resolutions." And I rolled my eyes, and went back to work prioritizing and breaking my resolutions into smaller more achievable goals (that I didn't achieve.)

Guess what did get accomplished that year? We did go to a new restaurant every month and drank champagne once a month just because.  So here I am, years later finally thinking that he may be right about how he approaches setting resolutions.

Many times we set out a list of:
  • I will not....
  • I will stop....
  • I will lose.....
That is just not fun.  Stopping something, quitting something puts you in the mindset of what you have to lose, what you will have to change, and we all resist change.  It is hardwired into us, so we call on our old friend Willpower.  

Now I don't know what kind of relationship you have with Willpower, but I find him to be rather unreliable.  A lot of times he just doesn't show up, or he does for a minute and Lazy and Apathy tell him I'm not ready yet, and he leaves.  Or he shows up for a time or two then gets bored and disappears taking my resolutions right along with him.  

You know who also travels with Willpower?  Perfection.  When she shows up, I get all flustered and my good buddies Procrastination and Why Even Try come and enable rescue me.  

So I am making new friends with Make it Fun (or at least not awful), Let's Get Real, Something Is Better Than Nothing, and Lower Expectations/Perspective . 

As an example, remember I had couple goals?  I never really put thought into why I made the goals in the first place.  It was just something that I thought married people should be doing.  I didn't think about how I would know if we were actually improving our relationship or were we just simply checking a box of what we thought we "should" be doing?

Really, the "why" or the point of having the resolution in the first place is taking time out from life craziness and spending time together enjoying each other's company, so we grow together and not apart.  The stuff I had on the list must not have been fun because I can't remember a single thing on the list. 

Make it Fun: Because we both loved going out to eat keeping our date was easy. Although sometimes life got too busy (Let's Get Real), and we didn't make dinner, so the Champagne goal was a good Something Is Better Than Nothing and Make it Fun. We didn't need to call on Willpower to keep that resolution and it moved us closer to real success, a.k.a. the whole point of it all anyway. 

With a little creativity you can apply this to almost any goal.  Take losing weight.  I hate the thought of dieting.  Realistically, I will not eliminate sweets, desserts, or cheese for any real length of time.  I will still eat french fries, cheeseburgers and pizza.  

Make It Fun (or at least not awful):  I will do exercise I like and not worry about how many calories I am burning.  

Let's Get Real: I am not going to cut anything out, but I can reduce it by eating my veggies first and more of them (the or at least not awful part of Make It Fun), then I can have those fries (if I still want them).  

Something is better than nothing:  And, if I am going to eat a cheeseburger, I am going to go get the best cheeseburger possible.  I am going to make those calories so worth it, and I am going to enjoy every bite. Resolution no more crappy burgers/Those crappy burgers are not worthy of me.

Lower Expectations/Perspective: I will not worry about a number, but instead do these small improvements that I can live with long term, and know that a small change in the right direction is still a step in the right direction.  One step, then the next, pretty soon you've gone a thousand miles.

Making changes don't always have to be painful.  How can you make them fun even if that means that progress may be slower? How can you add versus taking something away? How can you frame it so you look at what you have to gain versus what you will lose or give up.  

"A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step" . ~ Confucius 
"However, there is nothing that says that first step can't be fun." ~ Gretchen

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