Every year, on December 31st, around 11:56pm, I make a promise to myself. And by promise, I mean lie. I make a New Year’s Lie every year.
I’m going to exercise every morning! = LIE
Cut back on caffeine! = LIE
More water, less booze! = DOUBLE LIE
So I make my New Year’s Lie and change my habits right away. And by right away, I mean once the holiday weekend is over. That’s right, on Monday, I will put my New Year’s Lie into full effect. And by full effect, I mean I’ll change my habits for two or three days – or until I get my period.
Then around mid-March I’ll catch myself sleeping in and spiking my morning coffee, then think, “Oh, remember that Lie I told myself ten weeks ago? Whatever happened to that?…Hmphf. There’s always next year.”
Last year, however, I decided not to lie anymore and try to make a promise I could actually keep. I figured in order to keep a New Year’s Promise, I should try doing something I actually want to do. I mean, really want to do. Of course people want to be healthy, lose weight, or quit smoking. I’m talking about doing things you want to do that will maximize results and minimize guilt.
For 2011, my Promise was to make more time for the things I love to do but seem to forget about – like blogging. I made the Promise to write one post a week. By the time the clock struck 2012, I had 44 posts in 52 weeks. New Year’s Promise fulfilled!
Now that I have gone a few years Lie-free, I’m convinced I found the key to unlocking New Year Resolution success: Pick a resolution you look forward to doing. These aren’t the usual “I have to change my entire lifestyle” resolutions. It’s not so easy to change your lifestyle habits just because you had to buy a new calendar. It’s much easier to incorporate a new habit, or vary an old habit, that fits within your day to day life.
Here are some ideas that can help you pick an alternative resolution you can actually keep:
New Year Resolution: Try New Wines
Are you a wine drinker? Instead of going for the house red at your local eatery, spend an extra buck or two and try some of the other offerings on the menu. Ask your waiter or bartender what they would recommend. Maybe you’re a beer person? Scotch? Tequila? Bourbon? Whatever your drink, make your New Year Resolution about branching out and trying something new. Looking for a nonalcoholic variety Resolution? How about trying new herbal teas? Different coffees?
New Year Resolution: Gratitude Journal
This resolution takes less than five minutes a day and helps you focus on the positivity in your life. First step: buy a journal. (I think actually writing things on real paper is good for you, but you could also do this electronically.) Then, every day, take a few moments and write down one thing you are grateful for. The trick is to think of something different every day. You could be grateful for football, a good day at work, cell phones, guacamole, people, toilet paper, shoes – it could be anything.
New Year Resolution: Do Something Different, Once A Month
Who says a New Year’s Resolution has to be something to work on every day? Why can’t it be once a month? Or once every two weeks? Or once every whatever?
Are you an outdoor person? How about trying a new hiking trail once a month?
Are you a movie person? Instead of settling on the films with major distributors playing at the chain movie theater, how about you pick a new documentary to watch every month? Two weeks? Or find some low budget indie films that would never make it your theater?
Are you someone who loves to volunteer? How about finding a new volunteer outlet for the year? Or join the Board of a nonprofit you care about?
Do you love to read novels but find all your reading time is sucked into the Web and your Facebook newsfeed? Try reading one novel a month.
Who doesn’t love vacations? Why can’t your Resolution be to take more vacations? They don’t have to be extravagant or expensive. Maybe there are some weekend getaways you have in mind but you never actually follow through with – turn it into a resolution you want to keep!
Side note: Do you really want to wait another 350 days before you make a fun-filled pledge to yourself? Just because it’s nearly the middle of January doesn’t mean it’s too late to pick up a resolution you can keep.