Our Family’s Approach to New Year’s “Resolutions”

cute baby printableLet’s face it: there are a LOT of blog posts out there already on resolutions, goals and even “my word for the year is acceptance” BUT before you assume that this is just another post about losing weight, making time for family and organizing the house, give me thirty seconds of your time.

I am one of those people who falls into the “if you want to make a change in your life why wait until January 1” camp. I totally get why many people set goals on New Year’s Day, but I am far too impatient to wait until a pre-determined date to start, stop or change something in my life. I am a doer, and it’s hard for me to take a break or unplug. Once I get an idea, I have to run with it and put ideas into action. It’s pretty hard for me to unplug and slow down.

That darling little printable about babies not keeping? I will admit that I love, love, love holding my sweet babies but only after the dishes are done and the laundry is folded. It’s just how I am wired, and I have come to terms with the fact that I am just not going to ever be okay with dishes piling up. In fact, I actually cannot think clearly in a cluttered home, and I am absolutely the happiest when I am on top of my “to do” list. I thrive on crossing things off and accomplishing specific tasks. Because I know this about myself, I’ve had to work to find a balance in my life between savoring those everyday moments even if there are – CRINGE – dishes in the sink and focusing on the next project, goal or “resolution.”

It’s not important to me that we just hung a new calendar on the wall; I am constantly in a state of “resolving” to try something new or eliminate something from my life. I really don’t have a need or desire to write a list around January 1 (which is actually kind of shocking given my affinity for lists), but I think this is because I believe that we’re most successful and content when we’re in a continual state of reflection and refinement. Whatever is on your mind, do it. Whatever is on your heart, speak it. Whatever you’re curious about, explore it. Why wait?

If it works for you to make a list on January 1, I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong in that. I’ve just heard, watched and seen way too many people fall off the proverbial wagon before January is even over. The gym membership sits unused, which ironically impedes the other holy grail in resolutions, saving more money, and it’s just a hamster wheel of all talk and no change. And I think that’s because this whole concept of “resolutions” as our society has conceived them does not work for most people. Tell me what changed between December 31 and January 1 that is suddenly going to make that weight loss easier or that financial planning more fun? To me, making positive life changes is a state of mind and a way of existing throughout the year, not just in January.

Instead of making “resolutions,” try these instead!

Even if I don’t write a list specifically for upcoming year, I still believe that it’s important, fun and therapeutic to reflect on the year before and discuss your hopes, dreams and goals for the year ahead. The way that we approach this in our familyhopes for the new year is that we each privately write down our hopes for the year to come. Some things we may have control over (“get into a regular exercise routine”) while others may be left more to chance (“add another child to the family”) – the idea is just to honestly and privately write down what’s on our hearts and what we’re hopeful for. The sky’s the limit. I might hope that we find time for an exotic vacation to Bora Bora and throw that on the list. Like I said, it’s about hopes NOT resolutions, which I think is the key. Then, we seal these lists in an envelope and put them away for the entire year.

On December 31, we read them to see what happened (or didn’t) and finally share our individual lists with each other. Not only is it fun to see what was on our mind a year ago, but it’s surprising how many do come to fruition! And then we start the process over again. I like this approach because it gives us the opportunity to be honest (maybe you don’t really want to focus on dieting) and has very few strings attached. It also provides the freedom to do things like join the gym in August if the mood strikes because we intentionally agree that setting goals and refining them is “allowed” and heck, encouraged, year-round.

A few other ideas I’ve seen floating around the internet that I think would be fun:

  • Create a “yearly joy jar” – at the end of EVERY day, write down a funny moment, unexpected blessing, accomplished goal or highlight from that day. Open it at the end of the year and marvel at just how many blessings you have! I also firmly believe that focusing on the small pleasures frequently will quickly reveal what matters to you AND what to do more/less of throughout the year.
  • Write a “year in review” for yourself. If you have a blog, you can choose to publish it (or not). If you don’t do the whole oversharing-on-the-internet thing, save it on your computer. Or turn it into a book for your family’s coffee table. Reflecting on the events of the past year reminds you of the highlights and big moments and establishes a more positive attitude, in my opinion. And, it is pretty awe-inspiring to see just what transpires in one year’s time.
  • If devotionals are your thing (or if you’ve ever been intrigued by them), commit to one. I’ve heard great things about Jesus Calling, and during the holiday season I love The Journey. The point is that a small dose of reflection time every day can help you figure out what your priorities are in February, June or October. It’s ridiculous to think that your priorities will be the same in January and December – a year is a long time, so set aside time throughout the year for contemplation. The same could be done in a journal or on a private blog.
  • Find an inspirational daily email and subscribe. If sitting down to read or journal feels like a stretch, find something that can be delivered and read while you’re on-the-go. I receive the Family Matters emails, and another popular one is She Reads Truth. Of course, you could also seek out a daily subscription that doesn’t center around faith, too.

Do you make resolutions? If so, do you stick to them? How do you hold yourself accountable for making real changes that actually last? I’d love to hear more ideas for focusing on change throughout the year and not just in January!

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Ashley is the Co-Owner of New Orleans Mom, Red Stick Mom and Lafayette Mom, now the largest network of parenting websites in South Louisiana. Proud graduates of the University of Virginia, she and her husband Blaise spent time in Tampa and Scottsdale prior to settling down back home in New Orleans, something they both said "would never happen." An avid runner, she'll try any workout at least once and is always up for sweating with friends. When she’s not shuttling her 3 very active kids to school, gymnastics or baseball, you can find her cheering for the Saints, trying new restaurants or spending time with family and friends. She's also not afraid to return mediocre books to the library before finishing them because life is too short for bad books. A native New Orleanian, Ashley loves exploring and discovering the beauty of South Louisiana through her growing children's eyes.

1 COMMENT

  1. I actually asked for Jesus Calling for Christmas and have just started it along with She Reads Truth’s daily devotional!

    and I LOVE the Joy jar. MUST MUST MUST do this at our house because I know we will love it! 🙂

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