To no one’s surprise, the world did not end this year – meaning 2013 is nearly upon us. That means it’s time to start making all kinds of promises that are meant to make ourselves “better” people: thinner, smarter, cleaner, neater, richer, more interesting, more well-rounded people.
I have made New Year’s resolutions every year for the past 5 years, to varying success. Sometimes they have taken different forms, depending on how ambitious I am. Also how tired I am of failing at my standard resolutions: save money. Go the gym. Write more. Eat better.
In 2009, when I was still living in New York City, I made a list of 100 things I wanted to accomplish during the year. Some things were easy: watch a sunrise. Send valentines to my family. Go on rollercoasters. Some things were more of a challenge (and thus, didn’t happen): Buy a MacBook. See a Cirque du Soleil show. Some things were private, some things were silly. Some things were foresightful: Move back to California (by driving). At the end of December 2008, how could I have known for sure we’d move back? I guess some things work out. Ultimately I crossed 59 things off that list. In terms of grading, I believe that’s an F. But in terms of New Year’s resolutions I’d say it’s pretty darn good.
In 2010 and 2011, I just made categories of promises to myself: some resolutions about my health, some about writing, some about money, some about relationships. There are usually two or three things under each category, and I try to be as specific as possible. So not just “save money” but specific amounts. Not just “write more” but certain monthly goals to meet. It doesn’t always work but it makes it a lot easier to say how it went at the end of the year.
I’m coming to the time that I review how I did in 2012. I will say that my two biggest goals – “Get pregnant” and “Have a baby” – will make up for any goals on which I fell short this year. (And yes, I made those two resolutions separately as my way of making it clear to the universe what I wanted. Like I said, I believe in clarity.)
I’m also coming to the time that I will form my new resolutions for 2013. I predict they will be much the same at my 2012 resolutions. But as always, I have high hopes for the new year.
Here are my tips for writing successful New Year’s resolutions:
1. Be specific. Don’t say “be healthier,” say “Drink 32 oz of water a day.” Instead of “Be a better person,” try “Volunteer at a soup kitchen once a month.” Specificity keeps you on track and gives you a way to assess how it’s going.
2. Categorize. I find it really helpful to group things together. Then I can have one from each category that I’m working on at once. I like the categories of “health,” “finances,” “relationship,” and “writing.” But that’s just me.
3. Don’t go overboard. I usually have around 12 resolutions, but they are all baby steps and lots of them are season-specific. Many of them are monthly goals. So it’s not like I’m ever actually juggling 12 things. It’s just things to think about throughout the year.
4. Keep them somewhere you’ll see them occasionally, so you remember that they exist. I’m not a print-them-out-and-stick-them-on-the-fridge kind of girl, but I keep them somewhere that I can glance at them now and again, and see how far behind I am.
Happy New Year and happy resolving! May you accomplish enough in 2013 to feel proud…but still leave plenty of room for improvement in 2014!