Don't "Should" On Yourself!

Grace Judson

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The best New Year’s resolution I ever made – and the only one I ever kept – was to never make another New Year’s resolution.

I am dismayed by the number of people who doggedly, stubbornly make their resolutions every year – often the same ones they made the year before. Within weeks, or even days, these resolutions fall by the wayside, trampled into the dust by existing habits and ways of thinking and acting.

Predictably, this perceived failure to execute becomes a blunt instrument for self-flagellation, evidence of a lack of commitment, general bad-personhood, and overall unworthiness.

Talk about setting yourself up for failure!

Establishing new habits is hard. Evidence suggests that it takes at least three weeks – that’s a full 21 days! – of consistent action to create a new habit; eliminating an old habit is even more difficult. And most of us make resolutions based on what we believe we should do (or should not do), rather than what we really want to do (or not do). Furthermore, we state our resolutions in fuzzy terms: Eat less. Exercise more. Be more organized. While these are certainly virtuous and valuable objectives, there is no way to measure your achievement. What’s “less”? What’s “more”?

The start of a new year is an obvious choice for self-evaluation, setting goals, and making plans. By applying a little creativity and thought, we can set ourselves up for accomplishment and achievement instead of disappointment and discouragement.

First, take a few moments to frame your thoughts as desires and goals. You don’t really want to eat less and exercise more; you want to look and feel better and live a healthy, active life. You don’t really want to be more organized; you want to navigate easily through your daily tasks. When you use positive, active terms to describe your desired outcome, you advance along the path to success. Contrast this to how you feel when you tell yourself you’re an over-indulgent couch potato living amidst clutter!

Once you have your aspirations stated in words that excite you instead of depressing you, you’re ready to describe how your achievements will look and feel, and what specific steps you will take to get there. For instance, you may choose to take a vegetarian cooking class to learn ways of including vegetarian meals into your weekly menu; you might finally break down and get the puppy your kids have been clamoring for so you can take daily walks with the puppy and the kids; you might consult with a professional organizer to create systems that work for you instead of making you feel straitjacketed with rules and regulations.

The challenge I offer you, then, is to throw out all your old New Year’s resolutions and craft exciting, positive lifestyle goals with clearly defined, creative, and fun steps to a measurable result.

“Now there are more overweight people in American than average-weight people. So overweight people are now average. Which means you’ve met your New Year’s resolution. ” Jay Leno, American writer, actor, and humorist.

(c)Grace L. Judson

About the Author
Grace Judson is the founder and driving force behind Svaha Concepts. She coaches people who are ready to play - and WIN - the game of living life on their own terms.

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For information about the free interview series Secrets of the Woman Next Door: Stories of ordinary women living extraordinary lives, visit Svaha Concepts' Secrets page.


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