Cheers to a New Year

Making resolutions on the first day of a new calendar year never felt right to me. Other than how I (fail miserably at trying to correctly) write the date on an occasional check, little changes on January 1st. We return home after celebrating Christmas and New Year's Eve with family and pick up exactly where we left off the previous year: same grades in school for the kids, same work schedules for my husband and me, same evening activities for all four of us.

In September, however, life changes dramatically. The kids begin new grades, work with new teachers, and make new friends. My husband goes back to teaching after spending the summer working outside the classroom. I restructure my days to fit in as much work - of both the paid and volunteer varieties - as possible between the hours of 9:30am and 2:30pm. Our evenings become juggling acts, with my husband and I acting as the circus performers trying desperately not to drop our soccer, dance, swimming, disc golf, music, homework, and dinner “balls”.

To me, it makes more sense to start the New Year in September, when change comes naturally and causes me considerably less stress. It then follows that I should also implement my New Year’s Resolutions in September.

I gave this plan a try two years ago, and while I did better at keeping my resolutions than I did when I kicked them off in January, I still struggled as the months wore on. As many of you have likely experienced, the more time passes since making the resolutions, the harder it becomes to remember what they were and follow through on them.

But then, as is often the case, a fellow mama bear came to my rescue. While chitchatting over coffee a month back, she offered two resolutions-related suggestions that I expect will completely change the game for me…and for any other mama bears who aim to both set goals and achieve them.

First, choose a month in which to start. Don’t feel bound to January, or September, for that matter. I chose September because of the reasons I listed above, but you should select whichever month – winter, spring, summer, or fall – works best for you.

Second, replace the word “year” with the word “month”. That’s right – don’t set a resolution each year, set a resolution each month. With only 30 days devoted to each resolution, goals can and should be small, measureable, and empowering. Smaller goals are more attainable, which increases the chance of success. Measureable goals are more manageable, which once again increases the chance of success. And empowering goals are more inspirational, which…you guessed it…increases the chance of success.

To help get us and you started, my ingenious friend and I brainstormed a few resolutions that met her small, measureable, and empowering criteria. For an entire month:

·      Drink three full glasses of water every day.

·      Add one fruit or vegetable to every meal.

·      Lift weights/strength train twice a week.

·      Walk one mile every day.

·      On school days, wake up (and actually climb out of bed) 15 minutes prior to your children.

·      On school nights, choose a specific bedtime…and stick to it.

·      Read one chapter of a book every night.

·      Read one chapter of a book to your kids every night.

·      Hug your kids three times every day.

·      Spend 15 minutes every day in quiet meditation, reflection, or prayer.

·      Sit down for a meal as a family three times a week. (It doesn’t have to be dinner!)

·      Pay someone a compliment every day.

·      Clean out and organize one closet every week.

·      Pull out one bag’s worth of items to donate every week.

As many of us have read/heard/experienced, it takes approximately 21 days to turn a behavior into a habit. Attempting to tackle all of these resolutions at once and over the course of a full year might mean failing at half of them. But by approaching resolutions on a one-a-month basis, the small, measureable, and empowering first resolution becomes a habit – and a confidence-building victory – prior to moving on to the second resolution. Turning the second resolution into a habit leads to feeling even stronger and more determined. One resolution snowballs into the next, building momentum and helping you transition slowly but surely into the mama bear, partner, friend, and woman you want to be.

What would you like to accomplish over the next 30 days? What can you add to or subtract from or change in your daily life to become stronger, healthier, or happier? Choose your resolution, and then let’s tackle this challenge together, mama bears!

If you decide to give monthly resolutions a try, share your resolution below!