We all have the best of intentions on Dec. 31 of every year. Maybe it’s the thrill of starting a brand new year. A clean slate. A fresh start.
Maybe it’s just the champagne.
Whatever the reason, many of us will take pen to paper—or fingers to keyboard—and set resolutions for the coming year, some of which will be wildly unreachable. It’s probably because someone once told us that we should aim for the moon—at least if we miss, we’ll land amongst the stars. It’s a lovely saying to hang on the wall or put on a coffee mug, but it doesn’t do us any favors in the real world.
Setting unrealistic resolutions for the New Year will only result in disappointment and a blow to your self-esteem. To craft some resolutions that can actually deliver results in 2018, try asking yourself the following five questions.
Question 1: What Do You Want Most?
So, how do we set resolutions this year that we can actually stick to? The first step is to think about what your top priority is for the coming year. This idea should float to the top of your mind instantly. Resist the urge to overthink it—write down the first thing that comes to you. It could be something as specific as “Run a marathon” or something broader like, “Find inner peace.”
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Question 2: Is It Achievable?
You’re afraid of heights and your travel budget might take you as far as two states over, so setting a resolution to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is probably not going to pan out for you. Maybe put a pin in that goal for a few years down the road. Right now, you want to make sure your 2018 resolutions are ones that you can actually achieve.
Questions 3: What Does That Look Like?
So you want to find inner peace. What does that look like? Maybe you’ve separated yourself from an abusive partner recently and you’re starting the healing process. Finding inner peace might look like practicing meditation three mornings a week, taking a yoga class every Saturday, attending a support group Thursday nights at the local shelter or journaling your thoughts every night before bed. Write down your specific resolution in clear, actionable terms that you can follow.
Question 4: How Can You Measure It?
Our enthusiasm for sticking with a resolution will inevitably wane after a short time. The trick is to break down your resolution into pieces. This might look like a simple checklist you fashion on a piece of scrap paper, a fancy spreadsheet you create on the computer or something akin to a child’s chore chart that may or may not involve stickers for your achievements (we don’t judge).
After a month, what would you like to see happen regarding your resolution. Let’s go with one of the most common ones out there—weight loss. Remember to keep it realistic. The first month, maybe you want to work out at least 10 times and track your diet in an app. The second month, you’ll aim for a three-pound weight loss. The third month, you’ll step outside your comfort zone and try out a new aerobics class. The fourth month, you’ll run a mile every other day. Each week, month or quarter, set specific measurements for what you’d like to achieve and it can help keep you going until the end of the year.
Question 5: How Will You Reward Yourself?
This is the fun question. You get to come up with your own reward system. If you stick with your resolution for a whole month, perhaps you treat yourself to a massage. Two months? You invite a friend out for dinner at that restaurant you’ve always wanted to try. A whole year? Take yourself on a weekend getaway of rest and relaxation.
And yes, there can be an award for “Tried Really Hard Even Though I Didn’t Hit My Goal This Week.” Make sure you celebrate small accomplishments as well as big ones. Forgive yourself when you backslide.
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Most of all, try to stay positive. One way to do that is through a gratitude exercise. Each day, on a small slip of paper, write down something good that happened, or something you feel grateful for. Fold it up and place it in a jar. At the end of the year, you can read all those pieces of paper and revisit all the ways 2018 was good to you.
For more about the power of goal-setting specifically after abuse, read, “ Why Survivors Should Set Goals For the Future.”
Are you currently with an abusive partner? Resolutions and goal-setting can seem next to impossible given what you have to endure on a daily basis. When it’s safe to do so, consider reading our “ Escaping Violence” articles for information on how to get help and, possibly, get out.
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