It's that time of year again - time to make your New Year's Resolutions! As humans, we are constantly trying to become better version's of ourselves. We typically do this by making a list of do's and don'ts for the upcoming year. Or by making a promise to be better at something for the new year. We set a goal to achieve something new in the new year. To eat healthier, exercise more, read more, or spend more time with family or friends. In the past I have made New Year's resolutions varying from no more sweets to working out each and everyday.

If you are a human and you have made a New Year's Resolution, you know that most of the time they are inevitably forgotten about or you eventually give up. You would get frustrated by the lack sweets if your resolution was to eat healthier or you would have one bad day, not go to the gym and throw in the towel for exercising the whole rest of the year. You missed one day and ruined your perfect score so why should you keep going?

I've definitely been guilty of that thinking and I know I'm not the only one.

A lot of us are unsuccessful in the pursuit of our New Year's resolutions. In fact, Inc.com states that "about 60 percent of us admit that we make New Year's resolutions but only about 8 percent of us are successful in achieving them". That is a huge number of people who didn't reach their goal!

Why are so many people giving up on their resolution or not following through?

The problem with resolutions isn't our desire to better ourselves, because that desire is still there even if we give up on our resolution or are unsuccessful. The problem is that we give ourselves unrealistic expectations or guidelines. It is perfectly normal and absolutely amazing to have the goal of losing weight in the new year, but adding the condition to NEVER eat sugar again might be a little too ambitious. Because honestly, it's delicious and in almost everything we eat. You're bound to have bad days or accidentally eat some sugar. One slip up is not the universe telling you that you are not good enough, that you failed, or that you should give up on bettering your life or becoming healthier.

There have been many years when I have been super excited about my resolution. I was prepared to be successful. I had everything I needed to complete my goal and I had an amazing support group, but then one bad day threw me off track and I decided not to continue. I know how frustrating it is to want to better yourself, but feel like you are never going to achieve your goal for whatever reason.

That is why I started changing the way I made my New Year's Resolutions.

I still wanted to be better in the new year than I was in the previous year, but I didn't want the stress and unrealistic expectations of your typical New Year's Resolution. Instead of making a resolution, I made two lists. The first list contained everything in the previous year that brought me joy. The second list was everything from the previous year that brought me stress. Once I had both of the lists made I could clearly see what I wanted more of in my life, the things that brought me joy. I could also clearly see what I wanted less of in my life, the things that brought me stress.

It's that simple: Make a list of what brought you joy in 2019 and what brought you stress in 2019. Then you will find out what you want more of and what you want less of in 2020.

Instead of setting unrealistic expectations for myself, I had a list of things that I could focus on in the new year. Things to do more of and things to start cutting out of my life. It is a great visual reminder of what you want your life to consist of and what you can easily say no to in the new year. I plan on making a vision board this year containing pictures of everything that brings me joy. This way I can visually remind myself to do more of those things in 2020.

Last year, in 2019, when I made my resolution this way, one of the things at the top of my "joy" list was exercising. I had made SO many New Year's Resolutions about exercising in the past and never stuck with them past February 1st, but 2019 was different. I reminded myself often that exercising had brought me joy in many ways the previous year. Then when I had a bad day, I didn't feel like I had failed to better myself that year or completely destroyed a goal that I had. Instead, I could get up the next day, remind myself what brings me joy, and continue to do those things no matter what the previous day held.

I love this method for focusing on the things that bring joy into your life, but I think it is even more powerful for the list of things that bring you stress or that you want to do less of in the new year. Once you have made your list of things that were stressful in the previous year you know exactly what to say "NO" to in the next year. You don't have to hesitate or overthink the situation because you already know the outcome. You know that it will bring stress into your life and you don't want more of that. The challenge is to respect your stress list. To listen to the you who made the stress list and work hard to not fall into the trap of doing those things in the new year.

This year, the word at the very top of my "stress" list is clutter. I have made resolution type attempts in cutting out clutter before, but lost sight of those goals in 2019. I am hoping to change that in 2020. When I am buying something I can remind myself that it will become clutter, I know from my list that clutter causes stress in my life, and therefore I shouldn't make the purchase. If I am wondering whether or not I should get rid of something I can think about what its purpose was for the last year. Did it become clutter or was it useful? If the answer is clutter, then it needs thrown out! The "stress" list has the power to help you clarify many decision in your life if you give it that power.

The most important thing to remember with any New Year's Resolution you make, goal that you set or joy/stress list you compile is to have grace with yourself.

You are human.

You will make mistakes.

You will slip up.

You don't change your life with numerous unfulfilled goals. The way you really change your life is to keep moving forward when those mistakes or slip ups happen. Take a deep breath and as my 5 year old daughter constantly reminds me "Anna in Frozen 2 always tells us to do the next right thing when something gets hard".

Do yourself a favor this year, give yourself grace and change the way you challenge yourself with your New Year's resolution. I promise you will see results that will change your life in the new year.

References:

https://www.inc.com/peter-economy/10-top-new-years-resolutions-for-success-happiness-in-2019.html

Cover Photo by Sincerely Media