Simplifying Your New Year's Resolutions

It's that time of year again. That one where we all make promises to ourselves that get broken in about two months. We all start with the greatest of intentions but life seems to slowly intervene until we're back to December wondering why our resolutions from a year ago didn't stick. There are as many ways to tackle making new Year's Resolutions as there are ways to break them. Are you just going to pick one overall goal for the year? Maybe you'll do a different goal for each month of the year? How about selecting multiple goals from different areas of your life? I've tried almost all of them and I've had varying levels of success. This year, however, I'm going to try something new.

First of all, why do we make resolutions? It's because we feel like we aren't doing things we should (or we are doing things we shouldn't) and we feel some type of guilt, shame, or other negative feeling. We feel this way because we realize that when we don't stick to those "things" we resolve to do, we drift further from living how we think we should live. In other words, we lose sight of our values.

If you've never thought about your values, I may have just lost you there. Your values are the principles or ideas that guide your life (i.e. help you make decisions). In the past, I've written about my values such as Growth, Family, Critical Thinking and Discipline, to name a few. Most people will have a huge list of values that they give varying degrees of importance; these just happen to be a few of my most important ones. Your values are the principles that you hold most dear and they are the metric by which you decide if you are doing the things you should. A person without values is rudderless and set adrift in a sea of endless stimulus.

My idea for this year's resolutions, instead of just grabbing ideas out of thin air for things "I'd like to do," is to use my list of values. Why make a new list of resolutions when I already have a list of values that I want to live closer to anyway? Each month I'm going to take one value to focus on. At the end of the month, I'm going to set aside some time to reflect and see how successful I was in strengthening that one, and all the other, values that I think are important. Did I do anything to grow as an individual? What did I do for my family? Did I have any good examples of showing integrity? Spending a few minutes throughout the year (monthly, weekly, bi-monthly, whatever) will help me keep these values in the forefront of my mind and hopefully help me make better decisions.

This year I encourage you to make a different list than your normal collection of "resolutions" that actually don't resolve much of anything and dissolve a couple months later. The whole point of making these resolution is to live a life more like the one we envision for ourselves. We need lasting change that matters, not a brief burst of well-meaning. Instead, if you haven't already, sit down and figure out your values. What are the five or six principles that you live your life by? That right there is the basis for your New Year's resolutions and the basis for long-term success.

My resolution this year is to live a life of value based on my values. What's yours?