Monday, December 30, 2013

How to choose a great New Year's resolution - and make it stick

Source: my friend shared this with me on Facebook. Does that count?

"Experts" say that it only takes 21 days to build a habit. But I spent all of November flossing my teeth every night as a personal challenge to myself (and as a tribute to my wonderful dentist), and I still only do it sporadically now (TMI?). So I guess if a habit is mind-numbingly boring and kind of gross, it won't necessarily stick.

New Year's resolutions are a lot like flossing. Most people make nice-sounding pledges to themselves, then abandon them in mid-March, after a series of fits and starts, for a couch and a bowl of buttered popcorn (and honestly, that sounds like a pretty good trade to me). In the words of Mary Poppins, a New Year's resolution is a "pie crust promise" to yourself: easily made, easily broken.

And yet, a New Year's resolution is a fun tradition, if nothing else. Every year, I have a little debate with myself about what kind of New Year's resolution to make. One year I went the predictable route and outlawed sugar; you can guess how long that lasted. A couple of years ago, I eschewed resolutions for myself and instead handed resolutions out to other people. That was a lot more fun, and a much easier commitment. Last year I struck a balance between silly and serious with my resolutions, which were:

  • Buy better underwear
  • Loan $25 on Kiva each month
  • Less drama (especially in public) (especially when wine is involved)

Did I succeed? Yes, for the most part. My resolutions were mostly tangible and bite-sized, though they could have been better articulated - more details to show what "better underwear" looks like, for example, or an explanation of what I considered to be "drama."

For underwear, I joined True & Co (and boycotted Victoria's Secret), and now my lingerie drawer has a collection of nice bras that fit me pretty well.
I successfully donated at least $25 to entrepreneurs on Kiva each month, usually women. This was probably my most satisfying resolution!
To curb wine-related drama, I instituted a "three drink rule" for myself, since after three glasses I tend to get uppity. (Sometimes I slipped, as when I drank an entire bottle of wine on my own at Bumbershoot, which resulted in me yelling about cultural appropriation and sobbing in a beer garden... but mostly I did better.) For drama in general, I practiced communicating better with those close to me, managing my expectations of others, and taking deep breaths instead of saying bitchy things.

I haven't chosen my New Year's resolution(s) for 2014 yet. I already have so much on my plate for 2014 that whatever I choose will have to be something small and manageable.

..maybe flossing.


What about you? Do you take New Year's resolutions seriously? 

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