February 22, 2013

My Resolutions Tree: Setting and Staying Committed to Your Goals

The Resolutions Tree

I thought it might be nice if I got this post in before we're too far away from the New Year's beginning...it might lose some impact come September. While I personally think you can reevaluate things and set new goals anytime (like, say, March 1st!), the new year tends to be a natural time for this in our culture, so, come January, I said, let's do it!

I'm not sure that I love the term "resolutions." I think it carries a lot of baggage. A lot of "I'm going to lose fifty pounds-go to the gym everyday-and never eat another piece of chocolate again-only to be broken within days of being uttered" baggage. What I'm thinking about is more of a thoughtful consideration of your life over the last year...what's working well, what your thankful for, and what you'd like to change or add to or subtract from your life. This is something I do every year. As a matter of fact, one of my 2012 resolutions was to start this blog...and I did it last March, and I'm still here blabbing away.

Typically I write down my thoughts and, eventually, my resolutions, and sometimes even a plan for making things happen, in a little notebook. Then I try my best to remember to look at it every so often to see how I'm doing and recommit to things as needed. This year I had another idea to help me stay focused throughout the year on some of the things I deem important right now...and so was born The Resolutions Tree.

I got the base idea for this from a party idea pin I saw on Pinterest. That idea was to have guests at your New Year's Eve party write down their big resolution for the year on a piece of paper and then hang it on a centerpiece at the party for everyone to see. From that I got the idea to create a tree that I would look at daily to remind myself of things I was trying to change, add, or subtract in my life in 2013.

The first order of business was to contemplate and brainstorm. I pulled out my trusty notebook and started thinking about the past year. This was pretty easy for me because the last few months of the year were kind of rough, so I had a lot of thoughts at-the-ready.

2013 Resolutions Brainstorm

Then I made the resolution ornaments. I used a glass to trace circles on some old newspaper we had laying around, cut the circles out, punched holes in them, then cut pieces of some old yarn I had, and tied the loops. Pretty basic. I'm sure you could do something much cooler, but this worked for me at the time, when my goal was simply to get it done and focus on my resolutions. Who knows how I might change or update this as the months go by...

My resolution ornaments

Then I organized my resolutions into categories (they all sort of naturally grouped together) and wrote them all on the paper ornaments and hung them on the tree.

Read...A Lot!

I put the tree on the dining room table...though it may shift to the office/library. I chose this location for two reasons: 1) It's out-of-the-way enough that everybody else isn't looking at it all the time, but it's in my sight-line throughout each day so it remains a regular reminder for me. 2) I have plans to either turn my dining room into a hybrid dining-crafting room or to add crafting space to the office/library this year, so it seemed like the right place to have it.

At the moment, I am using a red berry tree for this because I was doing this project at the same time that we were putting away the Christmas decorations, so it was there. I plan to bring in some small tree branches, put them in a vase and use that as my resolutions tree, but inclement weather conditions (and maybe a little laziness) have kept me from doing so as of yet. So sparkly red berry tree it is! It gets the job done. You could also just tack them up on a bulletin board or lay them all out in a frame and hang or prop it somewhere you will see it daily. The point isn't to have a tree, the point is to make some goals, write them down and put them somewhere you will see them all the time (not just have them hidden in a notebook you misplace sometime in April!).

So what am I focusing on this year?

Add more romance.

Well, Amy: Version 2013 is focused on five areas:
  • Purposeful Mommy Me
  • Creative Me
  • Healthy Me
  • Organized Me
  • Romantic Me
These are the areas of my life that I decided I want to really focus on this year. Then, within each of those areas I have some specific goals. For instance, for Healthy Me, I want to add 30 minutes of workout videos to my nightly dog walking routine; I also want to add weekly yoga classes BACK into my routine (after months of commitment, those somehow fell out of my routine last fall); and I want to recommit to healthy eating "most of the time"...again, that's how we typically roll around here, but the holidays had us WAY off track! I also want to commit to getting to bed earlier in hopes of 8 hours of sleep before babies call out for me, and getting back into running this summer so I can run a 5 or 10K with my dear friend, Wendy, next fall. 

So far I've been doing really well with all of these except the getting to bed earlier. It IS a process after all! And that's what I really want to talk about. The process. I think, all too often, we either don't give enough thought to our goals when we make them or we don't do the work to develop a plan to bring them to life. I also think it's pretty common to get down on ourselves and give up when we get off track. We are often so much harder on ourselves than we ever would be on a friend (Guilty!). So here are a few of my thoughts on the process...

Give it real thought and make a plan.
* Don't just write down "Lose weight" as a goal because you think you could stand to lose a few lbs. Really give the goal some thought. Is this something that is really important to you, something you want to commit time and energy to? If it's really something you want to focus on, give it the thought it deserves...Why do you want to lose weight? To be healthier? To run a 5k? To look better in your jeans? Then develop a detailed action plan to bring that goal to life, and put the first step of the plan on your to-do list or calendar...for example, step one might be to research workout dvds and order one from Amazon by next Monday. Once you've done the first thing on the list, move to the second and write that one on your to-do list. Break it into manageable parts and take it one task, and one day, at a time.

Picture how you want to fill your days and then set the goals to make it happen.
* Look at all aspects of your life when you're identifying goals. New Year's resolutions aren't just about losing weight or running a race. Think about what you want your day-to-day life to be filled with and figure out how to fill it with that. I continue to strive to bring more creative endeavors into my daily life, but I'm a natural get-it-done person...as in get the work done before you get to play. So all too often I never get through all the the to-do's so I can move on the the fun stuff. So feeding the Creative Me is on my resolutions list yet again! (So is feeding the Romantic Me, since that tends to suffer a similar fate...nothing says foreplay like getting the dishwasher emptied first!) It's called taking care of the urgent (that dishwasher DOES, technically, need to be emptied) instead of the important (I'd definitely rank my husband above the dishwasher in importance...most days).

Remind and recommit.
Develop some way...be it a resolutions tree or something else...to regularly remind yourself of your goals, and take the time to recommit whenever you lose sight of them or get off track. It's so easy to get caught up in the regular day-to-day routine and forget that you intended to create new baby books for the kids on Shutterfly or reorganize your kitchen for greater efficiency or kiss your husband more often. So it's important to have a way to remind yourself on a regular basis of what's important to you and what you're committed to trying to do. And then it's important to recommit--rather than giving up--whenever you get off track.

Be kind to yourself.
I'll be honest. I'm not always that good at this one. I know I say things to myself that I would never even think of saying to a friend. And I'd be willing to bet that I'm not alone in this. I don't know why we think it's okay to talk down to ourselves, but we seem to. But try to catch yourself and correct it when you do. Don't berate yourself for not making something happen. Be kind. Give yourself a break. Then reevaluate your plan and recommit to your goal. Get up, brush yourself off and get going again.

So there you have it. The Resolutions Tree. Try it. And let me know what your goals are for 2013.

Until next time, I bid you good goal-setting!

Exercise 5-6 times a week.

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