New Year’s Resolutions

Several years ago, my list of New Year’s resolutions looked like this:

  1. Exercise
  2. Meditate
  3. Eat healthy
  4. Write a book
  5. Create a daily schedule

I hit it off with a bang1. New Year was great.  I got up early, meditated, exercised, and wrote my book. It’s the time of year when resolutions make sense. The sun climbs from long winter nights into summer days. I started my climb from nothing into well-being and significance. That year was different. It felt awesome2. I managed all my resolutions the whole year, and have never had any problems since.
Yeah, right.

The truth is…

January 31st saw me slouching in a recliner3; cradling a tub4 of caramel crunch ice cream; watching Big Bang Theory reruns. So much for the resolutions. They swirled down the drain5, a big waste. This time was supposed to be different. I was going to get my life in order, do something new, move forward. I decided to never make New Year’s resolutions again. I scooped another wad6 of ice cream into my mouth. Time to ring my friend.

„Hey Stevie,“ she answered, „how’s it going?“
„Well, you know,“ I said, „not good, not bad.“ An utter lie, I felt miserable.
„Uh-huh,“ she responded, keeping silent.
„Have you ever tried making New Year’s resolutions?“ I asked.
„I’ve always liked the idea of resolutions.“ She said, not answering.
„I tried making resolutions again this year, but it hasn’t worked at all.“
„What was your resolution?“ She asked.
„Oh, I didn’t have one, I had five.“
„Five resolutions?“ She repeated, „what were they?“
I told her everything, ending with a tub of ice cream in a recliner.
„Resolutions are a great way to change your life,“ she said, „but wouldn’t it be better to take it more slowly?“
„What you mean?“
„Make them easier on yourself,“ She suggested, „choose one resolution you want to try. Give yourself a week or two to see how it works. Then, if it works out, you can keep it for a whole year.“
That conversation changed my thinking about resolutions. Rather than a big change now, they are small stepping stones in the process of change.

Here are tips I have when making and keeping New Year’s resolutions.

  • Make them specific. A resolution like exercise, doesn’t mean very much. Give it a limit, like 30 minutes.
  • Set an absolute minimum. Think about your worst day.  How much could you do that day? Five minutes?
  • Give yourself free days. I give myself four free days a month that I don’t have to keep my resolutions.
  • Have someone do it with you. Doing things on your own is hard. Find someone to join you to help keep you motivated.
  • Give yourself a trial period. I give myself a week or two to test my resolutions before setting them for good. You want to know if you can manage your resolutions through the week days, weekends, ups and downs.
  • Forgive yourself. If you forget or can’t do it, forgive yourself. It’s okay if you mess up. Forgive yourself and then keep on going.

Last year I made a resolution to write a book and I did. If I can go from ice cream in a recliner to writing my own book, you can too.


Do you make New Year’s resolutions?
If yes, what do they include? Do you fulfil your resolutions?
If you don’t make any, explain why.

Steve McIntosh

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