Tips for Making {Successful} New Year’s Resolutions

It’s almost a new year!  In the countdown from ten to one, amidst noise horns and confetti and champagne, (or the exhausted open-mouthed slumber of an overworked mama—no judgment here!), another page on the calendar is turned. A new year will be here, offering us all a new chance, another opportunity, a fresh start.

I’m so grateful for a fresh start. Waking in the morning, I am able to shed all my failures and shortcomings from yesterday, leaving them behind to begin anew with a blank page.

What might this new year hold? How will my children grow this year? How will our relationships change and develop? By the time another year passes, what kinds of memories will we have made together?

We all want to improve certain areas our lives, whether it be our appearance or our relationships, or something more abstract like our personality traits or work ethic. The tricky part about creating a new year’s resolution is keeping your focus on the outcome instead of the problem. You don’t want to spend the next year of your life thinking about how your tummy pooch is not gone yet or you haven’t achieved perfection at your job or marriage. With a resolution like that, you’ll want to give up on your resolution just so you can stop feeling the weight of negativity every time you fail. Which you will. No one ever just decided to be perfect and then achieved it. Let’s stop the ridiculous cycle that typically looks like this:

  • Make resolution about being better. Try really hard. Give up out of frustration or forgetfulness. Repeat yearly.

Instead, change your focus and create a cycle of change that looks a little more like this:

  •  Make resolution about doing better. Record your progress. Appreciate your growth. Repeat yearly, because progress, growth, and appreciation are things you’re going to want to repeat.

Successful NY Resolutions

Here are some ideas for helping you create concrete, positive New Year’s Resolutions:

NY Activity JarActivity jar

Fill a mason jar with scraps of paper, each with a simple activity written on it: walks to the park with your kids, dates for your husband, quick cleaning jobs for your house, etc. Tailor the activities to your specific goals. After doing each activity, save it! Put it back in the jar in a little baggy so that at the end of the year you can remember what you did.

Exercise chart

NY Exercise chartPrint out simple pictures and instructions of simple stretches or exercises you can do with just a few minutes. Laminate it and hang it somewhere where you’ll see it when you aren’t rushing around. Go ahead and put little star stickers or tally marks next to each exercise after you do it. Each little star or tally is a success.

Empty journal

NY Empty journalInstead of resolving to be more grateful, calm, generous, forgiving, or healthy, dedicate an empty journal for the purpose of recording examples of when you have been grateful, calm, healthy, etc. This changes your resolution from an abstract future accomplishment (that you may or may not ever believe you have achieved) to a physical record of success.

Monthly girls’ night out calendar

NY CalendarGather your group of girlfriends, get out your calendar, and actually plan the dates and locations for the entire year. It’s much easier to change a date to a different day than try to make time for it once your calendar is full and busy.

Box of empty cards with stamped envelopes

NY Box of cardsThank you notes, happy birthdays, catching up with old friends, offering sympathy or encouragement, or just saying hello, a box of empty cards readies you for a year of better communication and friendships. Go the extra mile while you’re pumped up with January 1st determination, and pre-stamp the envelopes. Address them to loved ones you want to remember this year.

All of these examples start with an object. All of them have an action point as the goal. All of them can be completed in your time, on your schedule. None of them require you to overhaul your life or make unrealistic changes. In fact, none of them require an actual resolution at all; they are simply objects to support you in your progress. Instead of calling them “resolutions”, you might call these your New Year’s Action Objects. Or don’t, that term is really dorky. Eh, I’m sticking with it. Unfiltered dorkiness is the goal of my New Year’s Action Object 2014 journal.

Seriously though, as we begin anew this 2014, take time to reflect on 2013 and all the good that this past year held.

Look forward, but don’t forget to look back.

Plan for what might be, but also appreciate what was.

Resolve, but don’t neglect to remember.

Lianna is a homesteading mama of three: a sparkly seven-year-old daughter, a joyful five-year-old boy, and a confident three-year-old boy. After graduating from the University of Iowa’s college of education, she started Wondergarten Early Enrichment Home, a multi-age, play-based early childhood program. A self-proclaimed Queen Dabbler, she has a long list of hobbies (from gardening and canning to sewing and painting), and doesn’t mind being only mediocre at all of them. She lives with her husband, mother, three kiddos, dog, cat, rabbits, dwarf goats, and chickens on an acreage in the country. The Cornally family spends their time talking about education, learning how to grow and preserve their own food, and romping around in their woods.


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