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Why I Make New Year’s Resolutions

Some words we use so often, we find them very familiar. Familiar enough that we may take their meaning for granted. But if we take a moment to read a word’s definition and reflect upon it, we often find hidden depths we have long over looked. Take, for example,the word resolve.

“Resolve(v.)

  1. To come to a definite or earnest decision about; determine (to do something)
  2. To separate into constituent or elementary parts…
  3. To  convert or transform by any process…”

-Dictionary.com

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A Year in Review: 2016 Resolved

“1. To come to a definite or earnest decision about; determine (to do something)” 

I never used to make New Year’s resolutions. I was of the opinion they were worthless, because no one ever holds to them. January 2015 was the first year I made a New Year’s resolution. And I kept it. I made the goal to lose 15 lbs. With a little jump start from Advocare, a lot of support from my husband and a friend, some major life style changes and a lot less sugar, I achieved and then surpassed my goal. And I’ve kept the weight off ever since. The journey was empowering. By January 2016, I decided making New Year’s resolutions was going to be My Thing.

So in December 2015, I began looking for inspiration for new resolutions. I have a friend who is so much more than a friend. Having known her since I was an infant, she is my sister. And this woman is a constant inspiration to me in her creativity and motivation. Over the past couple years, I have noticed a trend in my resolutions: they are frequently inspired by her.

December 2015, I was honored this friend of mine had asked for my opinion on a book she had written in the Tales of Tiernen series. Sidenote: This friend of mine is crazy. I hardly find time to read a book, and she, with a family of her own, manages to find time to write a book! Who does that?! Anyway, I’ve always been a bit of a book worm, but nursing school happened and I read nothing but text books. Then motherhood happened and I just kind of quit making time for myself altogether. I’m sure this story is all too familiar to many of us.

Then my husband and I got into the bad habit of going out on dates on weird nights, like Tuesdays and Sundays, when everything closes early. By the time we made it out the door, we’d have time for dinner, but then miss the showing of the movie we wanted to see, go to the book store instead and spend way too much money on books we weren’t reading. Over the years, my pile of unread books has gotten a bit out of control. But reading my friend’s books got me excited about literature again.

“2. To separate into constituent or elementary parts”

So my 2016 resolution was inspired largely by my friend, the author, to read all of my unread books by the end of the year. Here are a few guidelines I used to create my resolution and break it down into something I could accomplish and adhere to.

  • Select a goal that is realistic. I knew if I made too ambitious a goal, I would not be able to achieve it, and would be more likely to give up.
  • Select a goal that is challenging. Obviously, I knew I had to select a goal that would push me. Otherwise, what would be the point in making a resolution? Although this point appears contradictory to the last, it is not. The key is finding a balance between complacency and over-ambition, and that is where a realistic challenge can be developed.
  • Make a specific, concrete plan to achieve your goal. First, I made myself a timeline. If I was going to accomplish this resolution by the end of 2016, I’d have to finish a book every one to two weeks. Second, I came up with a strategy. I started with shorter books or easy reads, books I could just whiz through to get a good flow going and get myself excited about achieving my goal. There were definitely some books I got hung up on a bit, more dense reads. But I mixed these between the quicker reads to maintain good progress. And I relished every letter of every word, on every page. I read anything from classics to historical non-fiction to sensational best-sellers. Third, I got organized. I ordered my books according to my strategy, in the order I would read them. And I placed them somewhere visible and easily accessible.
  • Hold yourself accountable. There are all sorts of tactics I hear people employ to hold themselves accountable. Tell a friend, write it on your fridge or your bathroom mirror. I found writing my resolutions on the inside of my weekly planner was a successful reminder to keep me focused and motivated.
  • Create a trigger to prompt yourself. In addition to placing a reminder in my planner, I chose a behavior or activity I wanted to replace, and I used that behavior as my trigger to read instead. In this case, I chose to replace time on my phone with reading. Every time I’d catch myself, eyes half-glazed, scrolling through Facebook, I’d pick up my book instead.

“3. To convert or transform by any process”

I haven’t quite finished all of my unread books yet. This is a resolution that will carry into this next year. But I will accomplish this goal, even if it takes a little longer than planned. And then I will celebrate with a massive book shopping spree! <Or maybe I’ll visit the library instead!> But even though I didn’t finish every last book, this resolution has made for a fantastic journey this past year. Here is how it’s changed me.

  • I learned to make time for myself again, and I have loved every second of it. We make many sacrifices as parents. We sacrifice our bodies, our sleep, our time, and some times even our hobbies. And then after all that, Mom Guilt still manages to seep into our thoughts when we allow ourselves an afternoon break from being Mom. We some how forget that we are more than just Mom. Or perhaps we don’t realize that we are allowed to be more than Mom. We are Athletes, we are Artists, we are Musicians, we are Dreamers. Our identities extend so far beyond our title of Mom. I discovered through my resolutions this past year, that in allowing myself time to explore my hobbies again, between dishes and dinner, and be more than Mom, I feel daily refreshed and fulfilled. And now, in the moments when I am Mom, when I am doing laundry and packing lunches, I am more grounded and more present with my children. I find even motherhood is more fulfilling. The take home message: we have to make time for ourselves to recharge. It is not optional.
  • Secondly, I wasted less time mindlessly on my phone. This seems to be the disease of our generation. Our phones have become invaluable tools if we use them correctly, but can become burdens on our relationships if we allow them to. I know I certainly have at times. I think many of us find ourselves opening and closing and scrolling through apps, like thoughtlessly channel surfing on TV. Although reading was not necessarily a social activity, it has certainly been a better use of my time than looking at social media for the tenth time this hour. And I find I feel myself more refreshed after fifteen minutes of exercising my imagination through reading than I do after fifteen minutes of thoughtlessly scrolling through my phone.
  • And lastly, I set an example for my girls. They saw me reading. All year. And goodness knows The Littles learn by example. I taught them that reading is something to value, something to make time for in your life. And not just when you’re told to for school.

Even if my resolutions of 2016 were not achieved in every detail, the journey towards those goals still created a change in me, and in my home. I look forward now to 2017, and all the potential it offers.

For more inspiration on making New Year’s Resolutions, check out my post My 2017 Resolutions.

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