Now that the dust has settled and all of the “experts” have chimed in regarding their thoughts on New Year’s Resolutions I’d like to offer you some new ideas to ponder regarding why resolutions work or do not work.
The word “resolution” is derived from the root “resolve” and means to solve by changing, converting, or dissipating. In the case of New Year’s Resolutions what most people try to change, convert, or dissipate are bad habits or unhelpful behaviors. When you make a resolution to “start exercising” for example, you are also saying to yourself, “I want to stop being so sedentary.”
Another way to look at resolutions is to view them as the promise of new beginnings that set new directions for the coming year.
Regardless of what the so-called experts have to say about goals, most successful new beginnings start with setting goals and objectives that break tasks down into specific action steps. Viewing Values-Based New Year’s Resolutions as goals that are capable of being measured through discrete action steps is a way to frame them to make them seem more attainable.
The biggest problem I’ve seen regarding New Year’s Resolutions is that people often base them on guilt or what others think they should resolve to do. Resolutions that are based on what other people value rather than what you value are doomed to fail.
To counter this, I suggest you make Values-Based New Year’s Resolutions.
Values-Based New Year’s Resolutions chart the course for the coming year based on your values and the direction you want to take. When you make New Year’s Resolutions to please others you set yourself up for a miserable year filled with doubt, guilt, and stress. When you plan a course of action based on your values, and the direction you want to move in, you are taking steps to live the life you want and deserve.
You don’t have to make resolutions about problem areas and the things in your life that are not working. You can also make resolutions to improve parts of your life that are doing well and you want to make even better. Why not start 2016 by resolving to enhance some aspect of your life that is already working and that you want to make even better.
To make values-based resolutions you need to spend a little time thinking about your values and how to use them to set goals that shape the direction you want your life to move in.
One simple way to identify your values and the directions you want to move in is to construct your “perfect day.” In other words, if you could plan a perfect day, what would your criteria be? What kind of work would you be doing? Where would you be living? Who would you spend it with? Other than work, what activities (read, write, cook, make love, etc.) would you engage in? The answers to these questions represent your Daily Life Criteria (DLC) for a perfect day. They also reflect what you value most in life and what your goals should reflect.
List up to ten Daily Life Criteria for a Stress Free Day:
What are the values these DLC’s reflect?
What directions do these values move you in?
How does your typical day compare to this perfect day?
What is standing in the way of you meeting these criteria for having more perfect days?*
* I am grateful to Gregg Krech and Linda Anderson-Krech of the ToDo Institute in Monkton Vermont for teaching me this activity and preparing me to share it with you. Visit their website to learn more about their programs: www.todoinstitute.org/.
After you clarify your values think about how you could combine them to create a direction you’d like to move in.
For example, when I did this 10 years ago most of my daily life criteria revolved around the beach, being outdoors, and scaling back the number of hours I wanted to work each day. This got me thinking about downscaling and cutting monthly expenses to be able to afford this lifestyle shift.
It is essential that you write your goals and objectives down. Make sure you divide your goal into objectives that you have a good chance of meeting. If your goals or objectives are too lofty you probably won’t meet them and this will create more stress.
One way to control this is to write measurable objectives. A measurable objective answers the question: ” Who, will do how much, of what, by when?”
Goal– “Form my own new business.”
Objective– “By the end of March, 2019, I will have submitted all of the forms necessary to form my new business.”
The who in this objective is you, the how much is submitted all of the forms, the of what is to form my new business, and the by when is the end of March 2019. To assess your progress check back on April 1st and see if you submitted all of the forms.
Step 1. Pick one of the values you identified in the “A Perfect Day” activity.
Step 2. Describe how this value currently influences your professional and personal life.
Step 3. Write one personal or professional goal that is related to this value.
Step 4. Write three measurable objectives related to this goal.
Periodically (for example, daily, weekly, or monthly) review the progress you’re making in meeting the objectives you set for reaching your goal. If you’ve written them correctly, all of your objectives should include a time frame.
After reviewing your progress it is OK if you decide to change the time frame or add or delete an objective. While goals and objectives help give your life structure and help you clarify your values, they should also be flexible enough to adapt to changes in your personality and your life.
I suggest that you start with a simple goal, something that you can accomplish this week and will help you start moving in the direction you want to go in. By keeping the goal simple and the time frame manageable, you have a good chance of accomplishing it.
Setting Values-Based Goals is one of the many techniques I use to help people Rethink their stress. Rethink is one level of defense from my Five R’s of Conquering Your Stress program.
To find out more about my Rethink as a line of defense against stress check out my Rethink Course: www.drrichblonna.com/courses/courses-for-everyone/the-5-steps-to-conquering-your-stress-home-study-program-rethink-course/.
Until the next time, remember to Stress Less & Live More.
Dr. Rich Blonna is an expert in understanding how the mind and body work together in creating and managing stress. He is the author of several stress self-help books and courses and the popular college textbook, Coping With Stress in a Changing World 5th Ed; McGraw-Hill Publishing. He is a retired Professor Emeritus from William Paterson University in New Jersey. For over 25 years he has devoted himself to helping people just like you stress less and live more. www.drrichblonna.com.