Now that we are three weeks into the New Year and the giddy effects of eggnog and champagne are wearing off, I thought I would look soberly at my resolutions for 2011. I know, resolutions get a bad rap, because we tend to make grandiose resolutions thinking of what we could accomplish in a year, but after a few weeks the realization that it requires effort to keep those goals eats away at our will power.
I enjoyed the book Switch by Chip Heath and Dan Heath; which is about the process of making changes. (Their book Made to Stick is very good as well.) Anyway, I signed up for their infrequent newsletter and received the following suggestions for resolutions:
FIVE TIPS FOR (FINALLY) GETTING YOUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION RIGHT
1. Don’t be ambitious. When change is hard, aim low. A friend of ours, the editor of a wellness magazine, has a “1-Song Workout” that she does on days when she doesn’t feel like working out. She tells herself, “All I have to do is work out for one song,” but of course she often gets in a groove and finishes a full workout. So don’t set an ambitious New Year’s resolution like “I’ll work out four times a week.” Instead, plan to do “1-Song Workouts” on Monday and Thursday. Leave yourself room to overachieve — that feeling of “nailing it” is what will keep you hooked.
2. Watch for bright spots. If you’re trying to eat healthier, for instance, don’t obsess about all the times that you slip and eat an Oreo. Instead, keep a constant watch on what does work. If you ate healthy food all day yesterday, how did you get away with it? Was it because you had healthy “heat & eat” food that was easy to fix? Was it because you never let yourself get so hungry that you’d crave fatty foods? Did you avoid the office lunch at the Mexican place? If you can understand what allowed you to succeed, you can do more of it. That’s bright-spots thinking. (Need a refresher on “bright spots“?)
3. Make simple tweaks in your environment. If you’re trying to increase your savings, pay with cash and leave your cards at home. If you’re trying to diet, carry around a Ziploc of apple slices. If you’re trying to jog, lay out your clothes the night before. If you’re trying to stop oversleeping, set up a double (or triple?) alarm system. (Or buy a Clocky with your Xmas gift cards!) This stuff sounds insignificant, but it will make a big difference.
4. Rely on planning, not willpower. Your Resolution calls for a new way of behaving. And that’s a challenge because you’ve been practicing the old way of behaving for a long time. The old way is well-paved and familiar and comfortable. So you can’t just bet on willpower or good intentions to ensure your success. Use your planning skills. Get yourself on the hook for something! Don’t plan to “learn Spanish.” Register for a Spanish course at your local community college. Do it right now — you’re already online. Or don’t “try hard” to go to the gym in the morning. Email your friend, right now, and tell ’em to come get you at 7am on January 3.
5. Publicize your resolution. We all know peer pressure works. So use it on yourself. Tell everybody you know what your resolution is. They’ll bug you about it, and you won’t want to disappoint them. Just knowing that they know will make you more likely to succeed. Hell, if you want, tell us. We won’t bug you about it, but we’ll silently root for you.
I think the last tip is very good. When you publicly let people know your goals, there’s pressure to put up or shut up. Never under estimate the power of peer pressure. So, what are my resolutions for 2011?
I will lose 22lbs. Now, some people may think that’s crazy or too large and I haven’t really comprehended the Heath Brother’s advice. My goal last year was to lose 50lbs! Needless to say, I gave up hope half way through the year. But 22lbs works out to about 2lbs a month, which works out to about half a pound a week. Through simple diet and a bit of exercise, I don’t think that’s outrageous. Consistent and simple effort is the key here – for me, at least. It’s also so drawn out that I can see if I’m on track or not. My goal is to weigh 200lbs or less on the morning of Dec. 31.
To be honest, I actually started this last week and have already lost 5lbs! Now, I don’t expect that amount of weight loss to be the norm. It’s always easier to lose the first few pounds. Sometimes just being aware of your weight or measuring it contributes to weight loss.
I weigh myself Monday mornings. On Jan. 10, I was 222lbs. On Jan. 17, I was 217lbs. Yay for me. I will update my weight on Mondays until I reach my goal. After that, I will update it monthly to ensure I’m staying the course. If my weight goes above 205, I’ll start updating weekly, again.
I will write a page of script a day or 7 pages a week. This gives me some leeway if I “stumble” during the week. I started this habit at the end of last year, but had fallen off the wagon by December. A page a day of script writing isn’t very difficult, but it’s about re-establishing the habit and being consistent. I think one of the challenges for many writers is that they put on a lot of pressure for that page. Not me. I am almost a 100% certain it will stink, but I will write it.
I will complete the first draft of one play. This should be a happy outcome of the previous goal. Again, the first draft should be “crappy”, so no pressure on the quality. But I do expect to have at least one new piece underway. A stretch goal could be to have a second draft completed, but I will definitely be happy to have a first draft completed.
Obviously, this is my attempt to “publicize” my resolutions. I guess I could provide weekly updates on the writing ones, as well as the weight goal. That way, I can keep a tally and you can see how I’m doing.
What about you? Do you have any goals for 2011 that you’d care to publicize?