A Better New Year Resolution Strategy

Years ago I stopped making New Year Resolutions.  I was sick of feeling like a failure by the time February rolled around.  The cycle of shame looked something like this:

resolution motivation for blog

Weeks 2 and 3 after New Year’s Day were always the most difficult.  Mostly because of what was going on in my mind.  That’s always how it’s been with me; often the biggest obstacle to success was the little voice in my head telling me how far off track I was and that I should just give up.

So, instead of New Year’s Resolutions, I have New Year’s Mantras.  The difference is that I’m not making some big goal that I want to achieve (lose weight, eat healthier).  Instead, my mantra is meant to guide me in the smaller decisions I make on a day to day basis.

My first experiment was with procrastination.  My mantra was “Do now what you can do now.”  In implementation, it looked like this.

Logical self: Hmm, I should _________.

Habitual self: I’ll do that later.

Mantra: Do now what you can do now.

Logical self: Can I do it now?  If less than 2 minutes, I guess I can DO IT NOW.  If more than 2 minutes, either schedule, or postpone until Get It Done hour later in the day.

By the time the end of the year rolled around, I didn’t completely stop procrastinating.  But I did procrastinate less.  Every time I listened to my mantra, I was procrastinating less.  I also felt like I was making progress, so I kept listening to my mantra, encouraged by my little “successes.”

Normally by the third week of January, I’d be so deep in a pit of shame I’d pretend I hadn’t seriously made the resolution in the first place.

I’m happy to report that last year’s mantras helped me make progress in all three areas I focused on.  Here’s what they were:

Social – “Reconnect”

Wellness – “Make healthy choices”

Professional – “Business fo’real”

This year, I’m keeping the social and wellness mantra, and tweaking my professional one:

Social – “Reconnect”

Wellness – “Make healthy choices”

Professional – “Open doors (and don’t be afraid to knock)”

What would you like to accomplish in 2014?  What are the small decisions you need to make every day to get there?  What is the mantra that will help guide you to making more of the choices that will help you achieve your goal?  Let me know in the comments!

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