By Heather Ratliff, RN
We usually blame ourselves for failing our New Year’s resolution. But maybe your New Year’s resolution failed you. Choosing a lousy resolution can make the difference in whether you make or break your annual January promise to yourself.
It’s common to shrug off a broken resolution, but breaking a promise with yourself can cause you to lose faith and respect in yourself and start a downward spiral of feelings and behaviours. This year, take deliberate care in crafting an achievable promise to yourself that fosters your self-trust and builds power and purpose in your life.
Step #1: Pick a goal that’s deeply meaningful to you. If you find yourself using the word “should” with your goal, you might be doing it based on external motivation to please others, fit in or earn recognition. Instead, choose goals that contain the word “want.” These often arise from internal motivations, rather than from concerns about how others perceive you.
Resolution based on concerns of others:
I’m should organize my house, it’s so embarrassing. This year, I resolve to organize my house.
Resolution based on concern for you:
I’m so frustrated that nothing fits in the closets when I want to organize the house. This year, I resolve to re-assess every item in each room and pass along anything that isn’t used, loved or valued.
Step #2: Craft a resolution containing behaviours, not results. Behaviours are things that you DO, like eat vegetables or put $20 in a savings account. When you craft a resolution that focuses on your behaviour, it gives you actions to take. A goal that focuses on results leaves you with an endpoint but no step-by-step guide to get there.
Resolution based on results:
I should stop yelling at the kids all the time. This year, I resolve to stop blowing my top.
Resolution based on behavior:
I really want to stop yelling at my kids but I’m always so exhausted. If I were more rested, I’d be a better mom. This year, I resolve to be in bed every weeknight at 10 p.m.
Step #3: Choose a goal based on your strengths, not your weaknesses. Achieving a goal is easier when you do something you’re naturally good at, rather than something that is awful for you.
Resolution based on weakness:
They say the best method to lose weight is to track your food intake. This year, I’ll resolve to track calories, even though I’m not a numbers person.
Resolution based on strength:
They say the best method to lose weight is to track your food intake. I love to write so this year, I resolve to keep a food diary and write about what I eat and why.
For 2014, start the year with a resolution that contains a heartfelt “I want.” Then choose behaviours to support that desire, which are based on what you’re good at and like to do. Keep your promise with yourself and build a base of self-trust toward a meaningful New Year.
Heather Ratliff is a Registered Nurse and Health Coach. She is the founder of The Wellness RN, a Kalamazoo-based Health Education and Health Coaching business. Heather holds Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing and Biology and Master’s Degrees in Public Policy and Environmental Science. She formerly worked as an industrial microbiologist in pharmaceutical manufacturing. Heather’s passion is empowering people and businesses on their wellness journey so they can share their best with the world.
To learn more about setting achievable New Year’s resolutions, attend our Jan. 15, 2014 webinar with Heather, where she’ll discuss how to help employees achieve their wellness goals with external motivation and your support as an employer. Attendance is free for all OHS Insider members. All others can register online.