This post is an updated version of a post I wrote for the Mama Bear Dares Blog a couple of months ago. Check out the original version here!
In years past I've mentioned that 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.
So this year, I kicked off my resolutions in September but made one significant change that I think will help me stay on track and ultimately be more successful: I replaced the word “year” with the word “month”. That’s right – I didn't set a resolution for the year, I set a resolution for the month.
With only 30 days devoted to each resolution, my goals have been and will continue to 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.
For the month of September I resolved to turn off the light by 11:30pm on school nights and by 12:00am (midnight) on weekends. My goal was to get at least seven hours of sleep a night, and to settle into a peaceful schedule of falling asleep and waking up that would continue through the school year.
The result? A complete success! Not one cheat day. On October 1st I stayed up a few minutes after 11:30pm just because I could, but after that day I went back to my 11:30pm and 12:00am bedtimes and now most morning I wake feeling well rested and refreshed.
For the month of October I resolved to drink more water. My goal was to down at least two full water bottles every day.
The result? A complete disaster! I probably met my goal only one day a week. I do a great job of drinking water during the summer, but for some reason my school year schedule doesn't have the same triggers as my summer schedule to remind me to drink water. I left water bottles on the counter and somehow walked right by them. I set reminders on my phone but if I wasn't standing right next to the sink when they went off, I would forget all about my water by the time I made it to the kitchen. (Probably because on the way to the kitchen I made the bed, started a load of laundry, and vacuumed the living room. Anyone else get distracted with chores as they move through the house?)
For the month of November I plan to revisit my water consumption, but I've also resolved to write daily in my gratitude journal - more to come on this in Wednesday's post, in case you'd like to join me!
As you may have read/heard/experienced, it takes approximately 21 days to turn a behavior into a habit. 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.
If you decide to give monthly resolutions a try, comment and share your resolution - I would love to hear what you would like to accomplish and I need a few more good ideas to choose from.
Happy New Year!