I was never a fan of New Year's Resolutions - until now.

By Jacob A. English

If you asked me last year my opinion about New Year’s resolutions, I would have told you that I think they are silly. I didn’t think it was necessary to wait until a designated time on a designated day to vow to make changes to your life. I believe that when you identify that something needs to be changed, then you just change it, no matter the day. It could be Tuesday, March 23 at 3:37 pm, and if you feel so moved to make a resolution, then you should do it. Also, I was opposed to both the social and internal pressure of a resolution, often making our resolutions designed for failure before we even begin. Although I hold the same belief regarding the timing of New Year’s resolutions, I think that I jumped to conclusions without fully exploring the depth of setting goals for a new year.

Last year was rough. I mean rough rough. None of us have ever experienced a year quite like 2020. And even though we do not know what 2021 will bring, I know one thing for sure, we need to celebrate making it through this year because everyone did not have such the privilege. I understand now that New Year’s resolutions symbolize change. Those resolution-makers are capitalizing on the energy that a new year brings to create a better and enhanced story for themselves. I am now a resolution-maker. So, this year, I am joining other resolution-makers as a celebratory act and vow to go into 2021 with an open mind and an open heart. And in making this vow, I want to have a plan to ensure that I stay committed to my resolutions. I would like the same for you too, so I am offering five steps to help you stay the course.

1. Put your resolutions out there using the method (or methods) that’s best for you. You must acknowledge your resolutions AND find the method that works best for you. In recent years, most people gravitate towards vision boards. I tried a vision board, and it is not the best method for me. I find that lists work for me. I receive a high level of gratification from crossing things off a list once complete. You should select the method that works best for you.

Here are some options:

It is important to note that you can choose more than one method. When you are embarking on a transformation journey, it is essential to incorporate all the tools required for success.

2. Now, get rid of 2-3 resolutions. “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” Coco Chanel was famously quoted for these words of fashion advice; however, I often apply this quote to many aspects of my life. When making task lists, goal lists, and for this article, resolutions, I think it should apply. There is nothing wrong with ambition. However, misguided ambition can lead to feelings that will only discourage and distract you from accomplishing your goals. Be ambitious, and please be realistic.

3. Find a friend. You will get discouraged. I don’t say this to discourage you, yet I mention it to prepare you for the journey ahead. If you can expect a challenge, then you can make a plan to overcome the challenge. One way to do that is to find friends who love you and share your goals with them. You will need someone to hold you accountable and lift you up when you need that extra motivation and positive energy. Choose the person or people wisely – do so with intention. You can’t share your goals with everyone, and that is no shade to them. We have people in our lives for different reasons. In matters concerning sharing your goals, it is crucial to identify people who align with your vision and understand your path and where you want to go. I also recommend you reading Anisa Purbasari Horton's Fast Company article discussing when to share your goals and when to keep them to yourself.

  • Bonus: Lose a friend. Oh, Jacob, that’s so harsh. No, you know what’s harsh - keeping someone around you who is preventing you from reaching your goals. You don’t have to cut them out of your life completely, but you can alter the relationship you have with them. If they are supposed to be in your life, they will.

4. Assess and readjust. You should assess and reassess your resolutions. As the year goes along, you will grow and learn more about yourself. You will gain clarity about what you want and what you don’t want. It is ok to remove something from your list, and it is ok to add something to your list. Remain flexible with your New Year’s resolutions. Removing something from your plan doesn’t always indicate a failure. Adding something to your list doesn’t always indicate an excuse or taking the easy route. Both actions, adding and subtracting, can indicate wisdom, growth, and maturity. If you are unsure of your intentions for any such action, you can call one of those friends you identified above to offer an outside opinion to help you navigate the situation.

5. Be mindful, be present, and enjoy your resolutions. You may be challenged and feel uncomfortable, but you should not feel pressured. You are in control of your resolutions. You have identified these areas of improvement to enhance your life. Imagine your life once you reach these new heights. Do you feel that smile on your face? That’s what you’re fighting for – peace and happiness. Enjoy your days. See the good. And please, do not judge yourself. Your wildest dreams are waiting for you.

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