Beginning

The Reason Why I’m NOT Making a New Year’s Resolution

I am NOT Making a New Year's Resolution this year!
Mom Improvement Presents: The Reason Why I’m NOT Making a New Year’s Resolution

It’s January!

I took a bit of a break at the end of last year, to refresh and get over a terrible illness!  But now I’m back and ready for 2018!

Don't make a New Year's Resolution. Just start the New Year.
Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

This post is the beginning of a new experiment!

I’m going to try a few new things this year, a few new types of posts.  I’m still a very new blogger, trying to find my style and voice.  A lot of the posts I have written so far have been project or goal-based.  But I’m also looking to explore and write some more prosaic and theory-based posts.  I’d love to share some of the amazing parenting lessons I’ve learned from the ECFE classes I’ve been taking with my boys.  I’m also really interested in exploring some of the philosophies behind some of the anxieties and sadness that I feel- in a way that could help all of us moms out there relate to each other better.

Right now, though, I have a question for you.

Are you sick of New Year’s Resolutions?  I have been grappling with this question all week, actually.  I was trying to figure out what the best kind of post would be for this blog for the new year.  My goals of mindfulness, minimalism and living life at a slower pace are somewhat out of sync with the New Year’s Resolution.  I don’t want to adopt any new behaviors or radical changes.  I definitely don’t need to add any new stress into my life!  And I’m working so hard to appreciate a simpler, more modest approach to a day, to a to-do list, etc.  I want a daily routine that has more peace, less panic.

What is your New Year's Resolution?
?

How do you feel about New Year’s Resolutions?

It can feel like you’re not doing your “homework” if you don’t have a New Year’s Resolution.  It’s such a standard small-talk question at this time of year.  “Do you have any resolutions?”  And don’t get me wrong- I’m not saying they are a bad thing.  The optimistic approach of starting with a clean slate, making positive change or sticking to a behavior can be really refreshing.

For me, personally, I just don’t think it works.  I’m the type of person who views life through a pretty hard-and-fast filter.  If I start a new habit, and miss even one day, I feel the entire experiment is a failure and I give up.  So a resolution, at the outset, is an opportunity for me to challenge myself to do something at which I know I’ll fail.  And then I do, and I prove something silly and untrue TO myself ABOUT myself.

If this is true of you as well…

I still think you could make a New Year’s Resolution if you want to.  It would require a daily chat with yourself.  An affirmation that you’re on the right track, that you can make slow change, and even if you miss a day or two, it’s OK!  And you would probably have to set yourself smaller, “trial run”, time frames.  I talk about that idea in this post (look for the part about time).

I'm trying something very new and different this year! I'm not making a New Year's Resolution!
Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

However, I’m trying something different this year

And you’re welcome to try it with me.  It’s very, very simple.  We’re a few days into the New Year and we have more than three hundred days of opportunity ahead.  What if our “New Year’s Resolution” doesn’t involve making a big transformation?  What if we already have all the tools in front of us to be our best selves?  I realized the other day that, five years ago, if I’d told myself what I was doing with my life today, I would have thought I made it.  I am living the life I dreamed I would be living.

But in actuality?  This doesn’t feel anything like the dream!  There’s stress, bills, boredom, messes… Most days, it feels like hell, not heaven.  And certainly not the stuff of dreams.

I’m looking at my life through the filter of “what’s missing?”  

My New Year’s Resolution doesn’t have anything to do with making change.  I have everything I need already- just ask Five-Years-Ago-Me!

So what is missing?  Anything?

What if the answer is NO?

My goal for this year isn’t a goal at all.  I mean- I do have things I want to accomplish.  But I don’t have a New Year’s Resolution.  I have a deep desire to feel differently about my life.  A need to see the best in everything.  I want to greet each day with joy, cherish these precious moments with my children.  I do want to grow as a person… through very simple actions- reading some of the many books I have on my shelves!  Enjoying the possessions I already have instead of shopping for more STUFF.  Journaling.  Blogging.  Regular date nights with my husband!

Life is just waiting to be lived.

I realize I’m not saying anything groundbreaking.  I’m not intending to make waves.  The fact that these ideas are so obvious is exactly my point!  We have all the tools we need at our disposal to live our best lives, be our best selves.  We are already here, in this moment, bursting with promise!

Let's try this Non-New Year's Resolution Together!
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Don’t make a New Year’s Resolution.  Just start the New Year.

I can’t wait to share it with you.  Let’s go!

Life Change: A Step-by-step Plan!

A Life Change Plan

 

This summer, I took two online courses that really changed my life- the best part? They were both free!  The first course I took is Rosemarie Groner’s 90 Day Budget Boot Camp.  The second course I took is Ruth Soukup’s Crushing It Mini Course.  The first question on the Mini-Course worksheet was an eye-opener for me.  It asks, “The Current Way You Describe Yourself”.  Here is what I wrote:

This is how I used to describe myself! See what I did to change it!
“I feel like a mess!”

I look at those words and I want to go back in time and give myself a hug.  But I was right; I was a mess.  Every day felt chaotic and out of control.  My first step was obvious: our spending had gone wildly out of control.  We went $500 over our budget one month.  I had to repair the damage done to our savings account.  We were going broke!

The Start of Something New

If you pick one goal and work towards it, you can build the momentum you need to keep making other changes, too.  All you need is the smallest taste of victory and the incentive to continue will take hold!  But where do you want to start?  That’s where my freebie comes in:

You probably have a loooong list of things that you don’t like about your life right now.  This kind of life change, the permanent, habit-building kind, takes time.  That’s where this worksheet comes in.  Pick your top five things you like the least about your life right now, and write them down.

Next, narrow your focus:

I can tell you from experience, trying to fix all 5 things at once will NEVER work.  It’s too drastic.  It would require a kind of discipline and stamina that we just don’t have.  And that’s okay!  This is a “long-con”, something that will happen over many months.  You WILL tackle all five of these goals.  But right now, you have to pick one.  I knew I had to fix our family budget, because, hello, $500.  If you are having trouble picking your first priority from your list, use these rules as a guideline:

  1. You should choose something that needs to change because it’s causing you stress.  You will be very invested in changing this because it is making your life miserable. OR:
  2. You should choose something that you are excited about and really want to do.

These two things might not be mutually exclusive- I was excited to start Budget Boot Camp and I needed it.  But you must follow one of the above rules.  For your first goal, you want to pick something that you have a high probability of accomplishing (remember what I said about tasting victory?).  You don’t want to pick something that you’re not willing to commit to 100 percent.  It won’t end well, and you will just add it to your list of “failed life experiments”.  Pick the thing that lights a fire in your brain.  Then, you need to figure out the HOW.  How can you make this change work?

What resources do you need to start this goal?

How do I find the resources I need to set, maintain or track a goal? Google is my first stop!
A Google Search is a great place to start!

I found Rosemarie in a google search!  If you need help or resources, google is a great place to start.  But don’t just pick the first thing you land on- if you’re choosing an online course, look for testimonials from other people who were in similar situations to yours.  Look for FREE things first- even if you are not on a super strict budget, there is good reason to try to be practical and wallet-friendly. Number one, because there are some incredible free things out there (see my examples above), and number two because you don’t need to stress yourself out by spending a bunch of money on something and creating a sense of “obligation” in yourself to see it through- thereby decreasing your enjoyment of the entire process.

Find the tool you want to use to help yourself.  If you need something basic, like a habit tracker, look in Pinterest (there are about a million free printables that help with goal-setting and habit tracking).  Look for a Facebook group and seek out an accountability partner.  Check your local “Community Education” website and see what they have to offer; if you want to start a new hobby, there are probably a few courses that might be reasonably priced.  It’s a chance to try something new and meet some people along the way!

Life Change: Step-by-Step

Making change starts with a step-by-step plan!
Create your checklist!

I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but it’s important: write out each step of your plan.  No step is too small.  If you need more room or spaces, print out another copy of the second page of my printable and write in more steps.  The more detail you have, the better.  I’m not re-inventing the wheel here- anyone who talks about goal-setting will tell you that achieving your goal is all about breaking it down.  It allows you to see the path.

Nothing is Set in Stone

Sometimes, when you are setting a goal or starting a project, you think it’s going to go one way, and… quite frankly, it goes another way completely.  If you are on unsure footing here- if you are attempting something really new and different and you’re a little scared- first, good!  That means you are picking the right thing!  And second, give yourself a deadline in the near future to re-evaluate your progress and change your steps if things aren’t working the way you want them to.  I recommend between one week and one month, depending on what your goal is.

DO NOT EXPECT PERFECTION

Sorry, I know capital letters can get pedantic and annoying but I had to make that point loud and clear.  If your new goal is something you want to do every single day, like drink more water or exercise, you need to build up the stamina and the habit over time.  My next post is all about 28 day goals, but for now, what’s most important is that you give yourself tons of patience.  Every day is a chance to try again.  If you miss a day of your goal, or a step in your plan, then those are the things to re-evaluate at your deadline.  The best question you can ask is, “how can I help myself?”  If you’re ever stuck on what to do next, that is the first and best place to start.

TREAT YOURSELF

This part is really important, too, but I need to set a couple of ground rules:

  1. Your reward should be reasonable– if you are trying to stick to a budget, blowing your hard work on something you can’t afford that will put you further into debt is definitely not a good idea.  Set a budget for your reward and stick to it.
  2. Get creative.  What is something you haven’t done in a long time that would really make you happy?  This doesn’t necessarily have to be something that costs money.  If it’s been a long time since you got to sit on your computer and play The Sims for a couple hours, then maybe that’s the perfect treat!
  3. Get your husband/wife/SO/Partner on board.  Their support can mean the difference between success and failure.  They will also be very excited to enjoy your reward with you if it’s something fun like a dinner date or a trip to Target.
  4. The most obvious rule- pick something that you are very, very excited about.  If you really want it, you’re gonna work hard to get it!

That’s it!  Go forth and set your first, awesome, life-changing goal!  Don’t forget to download the freebie!

Write to me and tell me what you’re doing!  I want to hear all about your plan, help you if you have questions, and give you a big, virtual high-five!  Let’s celebrate this new beginning together!