New Year’s Day is a time for resolutions. We use this time to reflect on the year that has passed, and plan for the year ahead. There are many changes I’d like to see in 2019. Among those are:
- Become more disciplined in my writing. I want to finish my novel this year and begin blogging again.
- Maintain my weight for the year.
- Continue running 5 miles once or twice a week while increasing speed.
- Reduce the use of artificial sweeteners.
- Do more physical activities with my kids.
- Reduce sugar and increase vegetables in the girls’ diet.
The problem is that New Year’s resolutions are incredibly difficult to stick to. It sounds good on January 1 when we tell ourselves we’re going to start eating better, but we’re not going to start on a holiday, right? There’s a big party and we can’t possibly miss out on Joe’s wings and Sarah’s brownies. Tomorrow is as good a day to start as today. Then January 2 a coworker brings in a dozen doughnuts…and we decide it can wait a day.
I was in this rut for years. There was always a reason to wait a day. I was too busy, too tired, too frustrated, too sad, too happy. And so I’d wait.
I researched ways to break this cycle. I Googled how to stick to resolutions and I read about changing habits. The experts would have you believe there’s a formula you can follow. I read about SMART goals in Take Control Of Your Life: A 2 hour plan to help you set and reach your goals and forming habits in The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. Their arguments made sense and I liked the idea that there was a clear cut answer. I recommend both these books, but their formulas didn’t work. Maybe they will work for you, but they didn’t for me. I found sticking to following the formula had the same problem I had sticking to the resolution. I just didn’t do it.
But last year was different. Last year I made changes to my life and I stuck with them. I fundamentally changed how I was eating. I became more physically active. I wrote for the first time in years. I started doing all the things I’d told myself for years I would do.
What was different? How did I suddenly do it when I’d never been able to follow through before?
It’s a question I’ve been thinking about a lot, because as I posted yesterday I’ve gotten off track and I want to fix it. I know I can – I’ve done it before. But how?
What I’ve come up with is that I wanted it and I believed in myself. I made myself a priority.
By the end of 2017 my back hurt so badly I was in tears just trying to get off the couch. I knew if I lost weight it would hurt less. And I wanted to hurt less. I wanted my back to stop hurting more than I wanted to eat brownies. So I made changes that aligned with this goal. I did whatever I had to do to achieve this, including ending a relationship with someone who encouraged me to eat badly. I made it a priority and I stuck with it.
I published my first book in 2018 for the same reason. I have always wanted to write a book. As a child I would literally bind my own books that I had written. But why was I able to do publish a book in 2018 when for the 40 years prior to that it had just been a pipe dream? Getting on track with my diet gave me confidence. I finally realized that if I wanted something – even something that has eluded me for years – I could achieve it. So I focused my energy on writing. I made time to write, even if it meant the laundry didn’t get folded and the floor waited to be mopped. I took time off from work and woke up early to write. I prioritized writing and I published my book.
So this year, when I write my resolutions I will focus on what it is I really want from 2019. What do I want more than anything else? What do I want more than brownies? What is so important to me that I will give up everything else to achieve it?
What do you want badly enough to give up everything else?
This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Resolutions.