I have always loved making New Years resolutions. I’m not sure what it is about the beginning of the year that makes it feel like a fresh start or a second chance at things I’d like to do better. I guess it’s that perfectionist in me that likes the challenge of setting goals at the first of the year to see if I can really make it all the way to the finish line. Declaring a resolution always gives me a feeling as if I could make myself follow a strict set of rules then I would somehow be all the better for it at the end of the year.
As most resolutions go, I would take off from the starting block with the firing of a gun and run head first into my challenges with my spirits high and determination burning in my heart only to fall headlong into burnout and desperation at the inability to keep up the pace as the adrenaline inevitably wore off. Isn’t that what always happens with New Year’s resolutions? We make these ridiculous goals with no support system in place to get from point A to point B. Then when we fall short of these unrealistic expectations it’s easier to simply give up completely and wait for the next year to roll around to then ‘start over’ again.
That was all until the New Years resolution that I made the year I turned 25 or as I like to think of as my most enlightening year. It seems silly to say that something so simple as a resolution is what taught me so much about myself, but I truly think that was what lead to my discovery of me. I came to realize that with all of these attempts of achieving these long term goals were ineffective in that I was going about it all wrong.
I needed to set myself up for success not for failure
I am not perfect…there I said it. I’ll say that a lot here because it’s important to remind myself (my little perfectionist self) that You don’t have to be perfect all the time! That phrase is something that I have learned from my wonderful husband. Even though I try to be the perfect wife, mother, and try to perfect myself every second of every day because that is just who I am. This is a nice mantra to repeat when things get a bit overwhelming,
You don’t have to be Perfect all the time
Now that being said, asking yourself to walk the straight and narrow of any type of challenge from January 1st to December 31st is a little over kill on the perfectionist side when you really think about it. Talk about setting yourself up for failure! Is there any real challenging personal change that can be made for 365 days without a single misstep? If there is then it couldn’t have been that challenging to begin with. Instead, give yourself a chance at success by making a goal framework to get from point A to point B.
The year before I turned 25 I think I had gotten fed up with New Years resolutions (really with myself for not being able to stick to it) and I decided the next year I wanted to try something different.
Why only wait for the New Year to make resolutions?
Why should only one time a year be special? My birthday is special, I could make new resolutions then too. There are numerous other holidays that could work as well. The only rules to my life and the goals that I set are the rules and goals that I impose upon myself. I could set new goals every month if I wanted to and have my fresh start or second chance as often as well. Shorter time periods to accomplish a goal made it seem much more possible, and I could try things that were extremely challenging for a lesser duration. I could use these challenges each month as a support system to build upon one another to achieve a larger goal at the end of the year. This was going to work!
My New Years resolution was to make new challenges each month for personal growth
For my ‘enlightened year’ I bought a calendar that was small enough to carry with me everywhere I went but big enough that I could put all of my planning needs in one place. I think it’s important to have one calendar for work/family/home if possible or things will get confused. It was one that showed the week and month type of calendar so I had plenty of room to write.
- In the beginning of each month:
- I had a section for the steps taken toward making progress on my New Years resolutions.
- I had a secondary section for my monthly projects
- I had a third section for incomplete goals from the previous month that still need to be finished…getting behind once is enough to make you not want to ever procrastinate again
- In each week I made to do lists for the week on what to focus on so by the end of the month all goals were met and I was on track
After making my New Years resolutions every month I have never gone back to once a year. I was so productive that I ran out of projects. I learned so much about myself and truly grew on a number of levels. I also learned that I need mini goals in order to accomplish a long term goal (like a year long goal).
This goal tactic can be applied to any areas in life and I have used it in all of mine. Monthly challenges works for health, wealth, and fitness, individual, business, and family life. My hubby isn’t into writing things down so we have a family calendar that hangs on the fridge in a central area. Manipulate the system however you like to fit it into your lifestyle, but don’t wait another year to ‘start over’…set yourself up for success every month!