Your New Year’s resolution: Adjusting expectations

Words from Christine…

We’ve been talking about five ways to make New Year’s resolutions “stick”. Here they all are:

  1. Be convinced it will make your life better.
  2. Break it into very small goals, and clearly state each goal.
  3. Be accountable to yourself and at least one other person.
  4. Be your own cheerleader, and have at least one other cheerleader.
  5. Be able to adjust your expectations when necessary.

Our most recent post talked about points 3 and 4, while point 1 and point 2 were covered in earlier posts.

So now let’s focus on the last item – adjusting expectations.

When you began your New Year’s resolution journey, it was based on specific circumstances in your life.

However, you may find these circumstances changing as you move through each step of the resolution – partly because you have changed and partly because life continues to move on.

There is a wonderful saying that “you can’t step in the same spot a second time in a moving stream”.

So, treat your life as a moving stream. Reevaluate the circumstances of your life on a regular basis to see if the steps you’ve laid out and your ultimate goal still fit how you’re feeling today.

Be prepared to consider adjustments to your goals during your reevaluation process. And then, discuss these adjustments with your confidant (from point 3) to: (1) Make sure they aren’t just reactions and (2) ensure they’re still in your best interests.

Following each of these steps makes it very likely that you’ll be able to keep your resolutions. Including the one about actively dating very soon!

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Your New Year’s resolution: Finding a cheerleader

Words from Christine…

We’ve been talking about five ways to make New Year’s resolutions stick:

  1. Be convinced it will make your life better.
  2. Break it into very small goals, and clearly state each goal.
  3. Be accountable to yourself and at least one other person.
  4. Be your own cheerleader, and have at least one other cheerleader.
  5. Be able to adjust your expectations when necessary.

Our previous posts talked about point 1 and point 2. In this post, I’d like to explore the third and fourth points: (3) Be accountable to yourself and at least one other person. (4) Be your own cheerleader, and have at least one other cheerleader.

And let’s stick with the example used in the prior posts, which is, a New Year’s resolution to “start actively dating”.

There can be lots of uncertainty, pressure, and anxiety with dating, so it’s definitely not a time to “go solo”. Tell someone – family or friend or coach or minister – about your goal so it feels like a real promise.

Then, once you have a target date to complete your first task, let your confidant know. When resistance comes up, share it with them.

When it feels too difficult to do the next thing on your list (you aren’t in the mood or had a bad day at work), call your confidant for an extra boost. The odds of them having a bad day on the same day is slim, so they’ll probably be able to give the encouragement you need.  The more successes you experience, the fewer bad days you’ll have.

Be your own cheerleader. Reward yourself for each accomplishment. Prepare ahead of time a list of 5-10 things that feel like rewards to you. For example – watching a favorite TV show, walking, playing with your pet, getting a manicure/pedicure – you get the idea. Then you’ll have your reward at the ready when you finish a task (or need encouragement to finish).

Pressure and anxiety may come as you create lists and pick your activities. To ease this, remember that making one decision at a time feels much less difficult than making many at once. Some helpful ways to think are:

  • I’m deciding to do this one thing because it will bring me happiness when I’m  doing it.
  • I’m going to try one new thing at a time.
  • Even if I end up not liking it, it’s only a couple hours out of my life and I‘ll still be learning something.
  • This activity is bringing me closer to my goal of doing things I like with someone I enjoy doing it with.

If you skimp on this part, it’s harder to reach your goal because you start to feel overwhelmed (which can cause you to stop everything). Completing each step one-at-a-time builds a firm foundation for the next step.

Your New Year’s resolution: Taking it a step at a time

Words from Christine…

We’ve been talking about five ways to make New Year’s resolutions stick:

  1. Be convinced it will make your life better.
  2. Break it into very small goals, and clearly state each goal.
  3. Be accountable to yourself and at least one other person.
  4. Be your own cheerleader, and have at least one other cheerleader.
  5. Be able to adjust your expectations when necessary.

In our previous post, we covered the first point. In this post, I’d like to talk about the second point:

*Break it into very small goals, and clearly state each goal.*

When you make small goals, it takes the overwhelm out of resolution-keeping.

For example, if your resolution was to “start actively dating”, with the hope of “meeting someone to do things with” – you could start making small goals by asking yourself a series of questions. For example:

(1) What would you like to do with this someone?

  • Go to the movies?
  • Have good conversations over dinner?
  • Play cards and board games?
  • Go walking?

(2) What qualities would you like this someone to have? For example:

  • Enjoy the same movies I do – musicals, action, happy endings.
  • They ask me questions and listen to my answers. They know about things I don’t know, and are interested in learning about the things I know.
  • Learn new games.
  • Power walking vs. strolling through parks.

(3) How can you find places to meet people who share your activities? For example:

  • Meetup.com. This is a wonderful source of activities. Just join and start marking the things you enjoy within your zip code and voila you will have a list of more things than you could ever do.
  • Google to search for activities in your area.
  • Ask friends and people at work.
  • Look through the calendar of events at your place of worship.

Armed with the answers from a list like this, you’re now equipped to pick an activity to try.