Tag Archives: new year’s resolutions

Why I’m done with New Year’s resolutions

Every year on New Year’s Day I feel anxious for a fresh start. “This is the year,” I tell myself. And I really mean it. I really believe that opening a fresh new calendar will give me the motivation I need to make all the changes I failed to make the previous year.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ve ever followed through with a single resolution. The closest I came was the year after Judah was born when I resolved to take at least one photo a day. I made it to July before I stopped making an effort to use my camera each day. Let’s be honest, though, my success was probably more likely due to the new baby who stayed relatively still looking cute. Once he started moving, I was done playing photographer.

This year is no different. I have a whole list of things I’d like to change about myself — get in shape, be more organized, finally get to the home improvement projects we’ve been putting off, be more creative, make more time for the things I enjoy doing.

When I really started thinking about it, I started to feel really bad about myself. That’s the thing about New Year’s resolutions — most of them are pretty focused on what’s not good enough about us. As I ticked off the huge list of possible New Year’s resolutions in my head, all I could think was, “Man, I’m doing a lot of things so wrong.”

I think most of us get enough of that kind of negative self talk as it is without focusing an entire yearly tradition on what’s not good enough about us, what we need to change.

I’m not bashing self-improvement. It’s important to be healthy, take care of ourselves, and banish bad habits. However, instead of making a resolution and setting myself up for disappointment if I fail, I’m changing my perspective this year. I’m focusing on the positive. Instead of thinking about all the things I need to change about myself, I’m surrounding myself with people, things, and ideas that motivate and inspire me to take care of myself and my family in the way that we deserve.

The problem with “New Year’s resolutions” is that when we tie our motivation to a time of the year, the motivation inevitably wears off. Anyone who regularly works out at a gym is familiar with this phenomenon. Every January 1, there is a flood of new faces in the cardio room and the classes. Suddenly you’re waiting in line for a treadmill when just before Christmas 90% of the machines were empty. By Valentine’s Day, the crowds are gone. All of those people who rushed to the gym after the holiday gluttony and resolved to finally get in shape have gotten back to their busy lives.

So I decided — no New Year’s resolutions this year. If I choose to eat better, exercise more, organize more efficiently, or start a new home project, I’ll do it because I’m feeling motivated and inspired to do so in the moment — not because of the date on the calendar. I’m not going to spend the beginning of the year feeling bad about myself because of all the things I need to change.

Do New Year’s resolutions work for you? How do you motivate yourself to make positive changes?

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Resolutions for 2012

My standard resolution for, oh, 10 years or so has been “eat healthier and lose weight.” So far I’ve only stuck with that resolution for 1 out of 10 years. Pfft. I suck.

I’m not giving up on that resolution. Lord knows I have more weight than ever to lose this year. But starting last year, I decided to focus on other things, too. Things that are easier, more fun to accomplish, and will improve my life in other ways. Here’s what I want to accomplish in 2012.

Organize paper clutter.

I have complained about the mountains of paper that stack up around our house for years. I need to finally find a way to keep them organized, keep paper off the kitchen table, and keep it out of my way. I’m working on an organizing station, and I’ll let you know what we come up with.

Start crossing off to-dos around the house.

It’s been over 6 months since we moved into our house, and we haven’t really done anything meaningful to make it our own. We haven’t painted, we haven’t begun any of the projects we’ve talked about doing, and we haven’t even hung anything on the walls yet (I know, it’s terrible). I’m not a good decorator, but I love this house, and I want to make it even better.

Get strong.

I’ve been attending a strength-training class at my gym three times a week, and I have really enjoyed it so far. I’ve never done any strength training before, so I want to stick with it this year so I can get stronger, feel better, and change my body. We’ll see what happens!

What are your New Year’s resolutions for 2012?

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Tech tools to help you stick to your resolutions

New Year’s Day is over, and now begins the slow decline in motivation for my New Year’s resolutions. It’s just so much easier to commit time and energy to self improvement when I’m on vacation. Once I get back to work and back to my to-do list, finding the time becomes a lot more difficult, and resolutions are the first thing to go.

Luckily, we live in the age of information technology. If you can make it work for you, technology can make sticking to your resolutions a lot easier. Here are my favorite tools for simplifying some of the most common resolutions.

Exercise more.

This year, my main resolution is to run a half marathon. But I’m not a runner. At all. And I’ve never really trained for a race. So I’m taking the age old advice of breaking my goal into smaller pieces to make it easier to attain.

My first step is training for a 5K in March, and I found a 5K training program called “Couch to 5K” that makes it incredibly easy. By using interval training and breaking it down week by week, this program builds up stamina without burning you out. It promises to prepare you for your first 5K in 9 weeks flat.

To make it even easier, I downloaded the Couch to 5K iPhone app. This is the first application for my smart phone that I’ve actually purchased (I usually only download the free ones), and it’s so worth it. The app tracks your progress and links a timer to your iTunes playlist so you can listen to music while keeping with the program. If you’re hoping to run more in the New Year, I absolutely recommend it.

Lose weight.

There are a ton of websites out there that make tracking diet and exercise a lot easier. Two of my favorites are FitDay and the Daily Plate. They’re both free, and they offer food diaries, fitness tracking, and a community for support. Simple calorie trackers make it easy to identify your diet downfalls, and fitness tracking helps you determine how many calories you’re burning with your daily exercise.

Read more.

I love my busy life, but I really miss having the time to read for leisure. Lately I’ve been using Shelfari to motivate me to keep up with my reading list. In the past, I would see tons of books that looked interesting, but I never had a place to keep a list. Shelfari’s visual bookshelf gives you a place to list what you’ve read, what you want to read, and find recommendations for new books from readers like you. You can see my last 10 reads in the widget on the right sidebar. The rating and reviews feature lets you keep track of your favorites. By making reading a fun challenge, this website may be the motivation you need to become well read.

Manage your money better.

If you’re not using Mint.com to track your spending, this should be your first priority. Mint automatically syncs with your bank accounts and credit cards to give you a full picture of where your money is going. It also allows you to create budgets and automatically track spending based on categories. The free iPhone app lets you keep track of your spending on the go. When it comes to managing your money, this is 75% of the battle.

Get organized.

If you’re looking for a better way to manage your to-do list, try Remember the Milk or Evernote. Both of these free programs allow you to keep an electronic to-do list, sync it with your smart phone or home computer, and stay on top of what needs to get done.

What did I miss? How are you using technology to accomplish your goals?

Photo by dmachiavello