How're Those Resolutions Coming?
Remember those resolutions you made? Remember how 2021 was going to be YOUR year? Well, it’s almost March, how’re they going? Me too. I told myself I was going to meditate ten minutes every day. And that lasted roughly two days. I didn’t even last the full trial subscription to Calm. I had to thoroughly moved on from this resolution that I forgot to cancel the subscription, and now I’ve locked myself into a yearlong subscription to Calm.
But I’m not the problem, my resolutions are the problem! Every year, I get swept up in resolution hype. It’s like when we went back-to-school shopping. At the start of each school year, I’d get a new planner, dividers, color-coded folders. This year would be the year I wrote down all my assignments, organized all the loose-papers, science and language-arts and civics would all be in their own notebook, easily retrieved when I was studying for a test a week in advance, rather than shoveling in as much information into my head to go with my blueberry Nutrigrain bar as I run out the door, already late.
I’m going to make the assumption that you, like me, didn’t magically change in 2021, as I never did at the start of every year. It’s more like your birthday, where you wake up the day after, feeling the same, maybe just a little more hungover.
So this can be a time to reassess. Not to make lofty resolutions, a word that has lost more and more meaning with each use. Be honest with yourself. Pick a goal. Start with one. Literally just one.
Okay, cool. Now, is that goal SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound? (You can thank the 1981 edition of the journal Management Review for that one). Essentially, ask yourself if this goal is a thing that you can actually do, something you actually want to do. If it’s lofty, look at that goal as a starting point, and add little goals for yourself that’ll take you there.
Now, not to brag, but I have mastered the art of the specific goal. You’ll notice that my meditation goal was not “I want to be more mindful,” it was “I want to mediate ten minutes every day,” and I figured the way I was going to do that was with the Calm app. And yes, even then, even with very specific goals, finding motivation is still hard. I faltered, to put it nicely. I careened off an overpass would be more accurate, though. However, you have to be nice to yourself. You are not a robot, and there will be lapses. In one of the three guided meditations I did, the phrase the guide used when describing if you found your mind wandering was “just start over.” There was no judgement attached. Just start over. That’s it. Just because you lapsed doesn’t mean you don’t still want to achieve that goal, and it doesn’t mean that you failed. Just start over. Just because you didn’t do it perfectly along the way doesn’t mean you can’t get there. And to paraphrase The Artist’s Way, if you’re worried about how long a goal will take, or how old you’ll be when you finally reach it, you’ll still be the same age if you never tried.
So, find a way to stay motivated, to just start again. Whatever works for you. Me, I like lists. I like crossing off things on my list. I always put something I’ve already done on my list so the first thing I can do when I complete writing my list is cross something off. So when I came across this article on micro-progress, I prepared for all the dopamine that would hit when I got to cross so many things off my list. Essentially, for every task or goal you have for the day, break it way down. Small things you wouldn’t even think to consider progress. Need to write a blog post? Step 1, open your laptop. Done. Next, pull up a word document. Done. Easy. That’s already two things crossed off! Writing it now, it seems so silly at just how effective it is. But that’s what works for me.
Lastly, reward yourself. You are going through a pandemic. This is hard and not fun. Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself like you would a dog. Dogs get treats for literally nothing. Just being. You deserve a treat if you made your goal, you deserve a treat if you recognized you just have to start again. (I’m partial to a pumpkin face mask, and if you're interested in trying out meditation, click here!)
Now I can go cross this off my list!