Wednesday, September 5, 2018

A Toast to the New Year

I have shared in years past how I dislike making resolutions on the first day of a new calendar year. 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 the holidays with family and pick up exactly where we left off the previous year: same grades in school for the kids, same work schedules for Tom and me, same evening activities for all four of us.

In September, however, life changes dramatically. The kids begin new grades with new teachers, join new extracurricular activities, and make new friends. Tom goes back to teaching after spending the summer working outside the classroom. I restructure my days to prioritize work - of the paid, volunteer, and household varieties - while the kids are at school and homework, extracurricular activities, soccer practices, dance lessons, and dinner during the evening hours.

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 three 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 last year, I kicked off my resolutions in September but made one significant change that helped me stay on track and ultimately achieve a higher level of success: I replaced the word "year" with the word "month". That's right - I didn't set yearly resolutions, I set monthly resolutions.

With only 30 days devoted to each resolution, my goals were 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.

In the end I bombed a couple of monthly resolutions, but I also crushed a few and managed reasonably through the rest. All in all, I did well enough and liked this approach enough to once again structure my resolutions in this way.

To refresh your memory, here are the resolutions I attempted to tackle last year:
  • September - turn off the light by 11:30pm on school nights.
  • October - drink more water.
  • November - write in my gratitude journal daily.
  • December - read to my kids every night.
  • January - clean out all of our closets.
  • February - clean out all of my kitchen cabinets and drawers.
  • March - participate in some form of activism every day.
  • April - don't use my phone to wake up in the morning.
  • May - cut down on the grump.

And here are the resolution themes (just for fun I decided to pick monthly themes under which to choose my resolutions) I will attempt to tackle this year:
  • September - mental health
  • October - career
  • November - gratitude
  • December - giving
  • January - finances
  • February - relationships
  • March - physical health
  • April - faith
  • May - organization

Since September is just around the corner, let's get this ball rolling!

September's Resolution: Mental Health
Six habits have been proven to improve mental health: exercise, sleep, play, healthy eating, giving, and stress management. It seems overwhelming to tackle all six habits at once (and some I already have a solid handle on), so this month I plan to focus on three: sleep, play, and stress management.
  • Get at least seven hours of sleep every night. Lights out by 11:30pm on weeknights and 12:30am on weekends. (Yes, I am a night owl.)
  • Play at least once a week with my kids, Tom, and/or my friends. "Play" means different things to different people, so I envision a few versions: chess, card games, soccer, Just Dance, Bey Blades, and American Girl restaurant with Will and Hallie, lunch dates and/or date nights with Tom, and some combination of wine, cheese, and chocolate with my friends.
  • Manage my stress by consciously stepping away from people, situations, websites, and television and online programming that make me feel worse rather than better. This one is harder to nail down, but my tentative plan is to start with a round of Facebook and Instagram purging and then set aside specific times each day to visit these social media sites. 

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 toast to the new year!
"Playing" with my friends almost
exactly a year ago. Time to do this again!

No comments:

Post a Comment