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Resolutions? Oy.

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Resolutions. What can I say? Every year I make ‘em. Usually, I break ‘em. This year, I nearly resolved not to make any resolutions. I didn’t stick to that either. In my lack of commitment to resolve to do nothing, I somehow resolved to do something, and it appears to be having a ripple effect! Let’s all take a moment to consider the power of reverse psychology—on ourselves. “That’ll show me!”

Have I lost you yet? Good.

For instance, I’ve been paying for a gym membership I don’t use … for quite some time. I’m a gym’s dream subscriber. It’s taken me a couple of weeks to launch myself into action, but I mostly blame the Polar Vortex, and the mental, emotional and physical toll it took on us all.

I used the Polar Vortex as an excuse for not going to the gym in the new year because I couldn’t leave my apartment for fear of frostbite or imminent death. Heck, I didn’t even drive to work. (I did wrap myself in four layers of clothing to walk down the street for Starbucks, but let’s not speak of that—unless, we count it as exercise.)

In the new year, I have, however, re-vamped my eating habits. I’ve also bought new gym clothes to motivate me to go the gym. I have yet to actually walk into the gym. Baby steps.

It’s a time-honored cliché to make New Year’s resolutions every January and break them by February. Perhaps, we often fail to keep our New Year’s resolutions because they’re all-or-nothing propositions. New Year’s Eve approaches and we switch on the “on” button in our brains to get going on all of those goals we’d been avoiding the year prior. The problem, however, is that despite a sudden decision to change, change takes time, planning and real resolve.

This year, I didn’t make any definitive resolutions on Jan. 1. Instead, I began working on myself in the weeks leading up to New Year’s. For instance, I used my vacation time as a test period to re-evaluate my eating habits and improve my cooking regime. This extra time without work, commuting and the daily rush allowed me to pause and start fresh. Because I began to change my thinking, I then didn’t use the holidays as an excuse to indulge. When New Year’s finally hit, this resolution already had momentum.

If we give ourselves one month a year to fix everything, we’re bound to fix nothing. Instead, what if we managed ourselves like we managed projects at work? For instance, what if we sat down around New Year’s and made a 12-month plan? Whether you pick one goal for the year, or a goal/resolution for each month of the year, you can then break down your plan of action into more manageable pieces. Give yourself monthly deadlines. Set benchmarks and rewards.

I like the idea of setting a new goal/resolution for every month of the year. For instance, in January, I will tackle eating healthier. In February, I will clean out my closet – and so on. If you start one goal, that doesn’t mean you have to stop working toward it the next month, you can just create on-going benchmarks of success once you’ve started.

Thus, you won’t have to lose 10 pounds, try every new wine bar in Chicago, and teach yourself Chinese all in the month of January.

By freeing myself from the pressure to set goals by an artificial Jan. 1 deadline, I have opened myself up to gradual change. And, the great thing about change is it breeds momentum for more change. I’ve cut out sweets and the Polar Vortex has passed. I think I’ve had just enough time to warm up to the idea of returning to the gym too.

Some Easy Resolutions You Can Try:

1. Harness social media for good. Rather than spending each day complaining on Facebook or Twitter, use it as a means to appreciate and showcase the best in yourself and others. In other words, we can’t stand your complaining.

2. Treat others on the road as you would like to be treated. Whether you take public transit or drive to work, don’t be a jerk. Think about how nice it feels when someone offers you their seat or lets you into their lane. Choose the high road, my friends.

3. Be your own best advocate, cheerleader, and pardoner. Try to do the same for others. 

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