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My New Year’s Resolutions

Hard to believe it is 2011! I find myself saying this about every new year as it arrives. Funny thing about time – it keeps marching on whether you believe it or not. Each year, many of us make resolutions which most of us break (I put myself in this category as well). I’ve have kept some very big resolutions, but I find that many of them slip through my fingers. I’ve posted before on some tips about making/keeping New Year’s Resolutions – my main post here with some follow up recommendations here.
Well, I’m going to try something different with my resolutions this year. I’m going to post my main ones here AND begin keeping track of them in a viewable spreadsheet on the web. I’m looking at these as a fun adventure, and we’ll see what happens. If you are interested, you will be able to see my progress (or lack thereof) as I will be updating the spreadsheet regularly as well as blogging about my experiences.
In keeping with some of the main recommendations on increasing the likelihood that these resolutions will stick, I’m following some helpful strategies:

  • Be Realistic – If you are too ambitious, you are less likely to succeed. Don’t set the bar too high with lofty resolutions and/or a laundry list of them.
  • Make Measurable – The resolutions should be quantifiable so you can more easily hold yourself accountable.
  • Track Your Progress – Not only should goals be measurable, you should track your progress to see if you are hitting the mark.
  • Tell Others – You are more likely to keep resolutions when you’ve told others, preferably in your inner circle, of your commitment to these goals.
  • Allow Room for Error – This could fall under “Be Realistic,” but don’t aim for perfection. What would constitute an improvement over the current state that would give you a sense of accomplishment?

Okay, this covers some ground rules and now for my 2011 New Year’s Resolutions:

  1. Meditate at least 5 minutes per day 5 days/week. My meditation is spotty currently, but I believe in the benefits of it, and I just need to be more disciplined in getting my meditation in regularly. I’ve been practicing mindfulness daily for some time now, but I think meditating regularly as a linchpin to improvement in many other areas of my life – mindfulness, compassion, productivity, well-being, and so on. I will vary what I use to meditate (e.g., guided meditation from podcasts), but the main criterion is that I spend at least 5 minutes dedicated specifically to meditating on a daily basis (with 5/7 days being my error margin).
  2. I am working on a book. More details will follow, but I need to start working consistently on this because, unfortunately, it will not write itself! Although completing this book will be a lot of work, I need to start small. If I set the bar too high, I know it will discourage rather than encourage me. So, I’m going to aim for uninterrupted writing for at least 30 minutes per day, 5 days/week. In a way, I need to do much more than this, but I need to set the bar low to get this rolling.
  3. Read a book at least 30 minutes per day for 5 days/week. I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks, reading many magazines, websites, etc., but this has been at the expense of quiet, uninterrupted book reading. I fear that my attention span is waning for deep, contemplative book reading (due to the call of the technology siren, demands of family/work life, etc.). This is sort of related to Resolution #1 – I believe that cultivating my sustained attention will help me achieve a richer, fuller life and impact all other areas (e.g., help me to be more attentive to my wife and kids, clients, friends).
  4. Practice playing guitar at least 30 minutes/week. I took guitar lessons about year ago, but I let this slide. I don’t know that I’ll ever have the time to gain proficiency at it, but I’ll just chip away at playing and see what happens.
  5. Get at least 7 hours of sleep 5 days/week. Sleep is fundamental to our well-being. All of our many other efforts to improve our happiness and well-being are likely to fail unless we get enough sleep. I’ve blogged about this before here. My body/brain need about 7.5 hours/night. I’ve been a lot better and getting close to this nightly, but I still could use some improvement. Sometimes I get so caught up with working or catching up that I have difficulty getting myself to bed on time. Time to explicitly make sleep the priority that it needs to be!

Well, there you have it! I’m going to officially start on Monday January 3 because I’m still in vacation mode. I’ve posted my spreadsheet and will refer to it periodically so you’ll know how I’m doing. Even if no one looks at this, the fact that I’m tracking this will help motivate me. I’m ready for the challenge and curious to see what happens. If you want to, perhaps see what I’m doing and make a similar tracking spreadsheet to see if it helps you achieve your goals/resolutions. Happy New Year!

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