Let’s face it, when was the last time you made a New Year’s Resolution and actually kept it? Never? I’d like to suggest that we hack the heck out of this thing and create something that will take us into 2017 with goals we can actually keep!
Before we start hacking - let’s look at the origin of the New Year’s Resolution (did you know most countries don’t have this tradition? It’s mostly a Western tradition.)
Historians believe the tradition started with the Babylonians some 4,000 years ago. A similar practice occurred in ancient Rome, after emperor Julius Caesar adjusted the calendar and established January 1 as the beginning of the new year (March had previously been the beginning of a new year), circa 46 B.C. January, named for Janus, the two-faced god whose spirit inhabited arches and doorways. January had special significance for the Romans who believed that Janus symbolically looked backwards into the previous year and ahead into the future, the Romans offered sacrifices to the god and made promises of good behavior for the coming year.
While we don’t make sacrifices to the gods (or most of us don’t anyway), the practice of making a resolution to improve our behavior, habits and our lives is deeply embedded in US culture today. Research shows that nearly 45% of us make a resolution each year, and as few as 8% of us actually keep it!
Here are our favorite hacks on the New Year’s Resolution.
The One Word Resolution Hack.
A simple, and awesome “hack”. Rather than take on a lot of something new, think of a theme for the year and thread that theme throughout the year. Some examples?
- Simplicity. Perhaps this is the year that you get rid of a bunch of old junk you don’t really need, reduce the number of crazy activities you do every week - maybe even pare down some relationships that complicate your life rather than bringing you peace and energy.
- Enough. Are you a perfectionist? Do you insist on doing everything 110%? This creates a lot of stress and headache. Perhaps this is the year that you pick a few things to do just enough.
- Beyond. This is sort-of the opposite of Enough - what if you choose this year to do a little more? To push your workout to four days a week instead of three, or spend a few more hours a week at work so you can push your results just that little bit further?
- Efficient. This is the year to eliminate time wasters. Remove your Facebook notification and limit yourself to only looking at FB when you’re also binge watching Scandal. Then you can get two time wasters out of the way at once. Write more To Do lists and cross stuff off - that feels great!
I’m guilty of creating a resolution that takes so much time (the thing I have the least of). You know the one, “I’m going to workout 5 days a week for at least an hour.” After January 8th, it’s so obvious I’ll never do it, that I give up quickly and never pick it up again… I just fail from the start.
For this hack, set a resolution that will cost you no more than 15 minutes per week or 15 minutes per day. It’s still something, and perhaps later in the year, you can add 10 more minutes - once you’ve created a habit.
What are some things you can do in 15 minutes: Yoga? Meditation? Call your Mom? Write thank you notes? Make a gratitude journal?
The “Forgive Me” Hack.
Whatever your goal, you’re going to goof up. We just do. With this hack, instead of saying, “damnit, I knew I couldn’t do this. I quit.” We say, “Whoopsie. This is tough. I blew it today, but I’m back on track for tomorrow.”
We give ourselves permission to goof up, and get back on track. Now, instead of quitting in January - you’ll make it into the summertime, right?!
The “Break Up” Resolution Hack.
So, you still want to go big? You go, girl… or boy! But instead of saying, “I want to lose 20 pounds by Summer.” Break your goal into smaller milestones. “I want to lose 1 pound per week until summer.”
You’ll love your sense of accomplishment when you hit your smaller goals, and if you fail to make it one week - you have a chance to make up some of the difference in the next week - keeping you on track towards your bigger goal.
You have a little time to plan your resolution. Sit down with your family, particularly your children, and talk about your resolutions. What does it mean to be resolved? How can you have a family resolution (like play more card games or board games together? Or take more walks together?)
Science shows that you’re more likely to hit your goals if you tell just one other person - imagine how powerful it will be when the whole family knows what you’re up to and you are supporting each other to achieve your goals.