New Year’s is a time of new beginnings for many of us. A lot of people see the new year as an opportunity for a fresh start. New Year’s resolutions are all about that fresh start: losing weight, returning to school, getting a better job, or leaving a bad relationship. Unfortunately, too many people make resolutions that are too ambitious or too vague, and end up giving up – some even give up before the month of January is finished.
New Year’s is a great opportunity to make a fresh start and change things in your life that you aren’t happy with. But the key to a successful resolution, especially for a super busy parent, is having a manageable, realistic resolution to begin with.
Don’t make promises to yourself that you can’t or won’t keep. The first step to that: don’t make the same resolution that you made last year, and the year before that, and the year before that and…well, you get the point. You keep making that resolution because you’ve yet to succeed at it. You’re not succeeding because it’s not realistic. Sure, you may tell yourself it is, but really, wouldn’t you have succeeded by now if it were? Of course!
Instead, make a realistic resolution. Some examples:
Weight loss. Instead of a vague resolution like “I will lose weight this year.” or a very concrete but huge one like “I will lose 75 pounds by June.”, make ones that are smaller and will lead up to your big goal. If your goal is to lose 75 pounds, make resolutions about how you will accomplish that. Resolve to take the kids and walk at least a quarter mile three times a week at Jervey Gantt Park in Ocala. Resolve to shop for fresh produce at roadside stands rather than eating fast food every night. By setting smaller, easier to attain goals that don’t seem overwhelming, you will be taking steps toward that bigger goal, rather than having a seemingly insurmountable obstacle and no clue where to start.
Get a better job. All too often, people vow to get a better job, and then flip through the classifieds, see nothing that interests them, and give up, deciding what they’ve got is the best they’ll find. Instead, again, chop it up into smaller resolutions. Resolve to update your resume. Look into the new styles of resume that are becoming popular and try to update yours to reflect the new trends – ask a friend to help, if necessary. Resolve to update your skills – many times, you can find classes that will brush up skills you already have, or give you new ones. These classes can sometimes be very inexpensive, and you might even be able to get your employer to pay for them. You can check at the Marion County Technical and Adult Education Center or College of Central Florida for some of these classes. Take smaller steps that will eventually lead to the achievement of your ultimate goal.
Getting out more. If the resolve is simply to get out more and make new friends, make some concrete resolutions. For example, if you enjoy bowling, then join a bowling league at Ocala Bowl – the commitment to others will make you more likely to follow through, and it’ll definitely help you meet people. If you’re thinking more along the lines of getting the whole family out more and more active, then consider setting a weekly date for the whole family to head to Greenway Park to walk the trail, or to head over to Easy Street Family Fun Center for a Saturday afternoon of mini golf and arcade style games.
To read more, or expand your mind. Resolve to go to one or two specific websites (lodeplus.com is a great one for this!) every day and read X number of articles (my articles are generally quick reads!). Resolve to go to the Marion County Library once every three weeks (the typical lending length of most books) and check out X number of books. Tell yourself you cannot return them until you’ve read them – the idea of racking up late fees may be the motivation you need to crack those books!
Spend more time with the kids. This one is often made out of guilt. We spend 40+ hours a week at work, then another 15-20 hours a week running errands, cooking, cleaning, helping with homework, and playing taskmaster or caretaking that we feel we don’t spend enough fun, quality time with the kids – so we resolve to spend more time with them. But we never do. Again, the resolution is too vague. Instead, vow to do specific activities with them in specific intervals. For example, resolve to have a movie night every Sunday night, a game night every Saturday night, or to go for a long bike ride or hike every second Saturday morning. When the time for this particular activity rolls around, turn off the computer and the cell phone, and focus on your kids and the activities you’re enjoying together. Try to pick at least one activity per child, and gear each one toward a child’s interest, so everyone has at least one of these activities that they will definitely look forward to and enjoy.
Another key to keeping a resolution is letting others know about it. Some, like weight loss or spending more time with your kids may feel slightly embarrassing at first, as though you’re admitting something horrible (by basically saying you’re fat or a bad parent, in your mind). But by telling others, you’re holding yourself accountable to them. You’re giving them the chance to ask you, “Hey, how’s that going for you?” You won’t want to have to admit that you’ve stopped or failed, so you’re more likely to work at it so you don’t have to admit that.
Something else that can help keep you on track is to note things on a calendar. For example, if your resolution is to walk three times a week at Jervey Gantt, decide which three days every week you’re going to do and then mark them on your calendar. The calendar on your phone or computer works best, since you can set it to remind you, making it harder to ignore. Marking activities with the kids, or reminders of deadlines (returning books to libraries, deadlines to sign up for classes, etc.) can also go on that calendar to help you stick to it.
Depending on the resolution, you can also get a friend to buddy up with you and work on it together. This works especially well for weight loss, but you can also use it for job goals or expanding the mind. You can check out duplicate copies of the same book from the library, read them, and have your own little book club. You can review each other’s resumes, and role play interviews for each other.
Take advantage of this fresh start, but don’t sabotage yourself before you’re even out of the gate.