Tuesday, August 27, 2019

New Year, New Me

In years past I have written about 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 (not to mention new schools this year), 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 four 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 two years ago, I kicked off my resolutions in September and made one additional 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.

I admit to bombing a handful of my 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 structure my resolutions in this way for the third year in a row.

And so, with our further ado, let's get this year off to a great start!

Toward the end of the summer I recognized that I was spending too much time on my phone. My bad habit developed in part because my kids are getting older and spending more time on their own; when they're not with me (and especially when they're home alone or Will is at the park with his friends) I want and need to keep my phone nearby in case they text or call. However, when my phone is nearby, I pick it up, check my email, and scroll through social media far more often. I have also gotten into the (equally bad) habit of perusing my phone while watching television. I allow myself to have my computer open and the television on at the same time because I like background noise while I work, but there is not need for me to watch my phone and the television simultaneously. If the program or movie isn't interesting enough for me to watch it without phone "enhancement", it's not interesting enough for me to watch at all.

To be clear, I am not abandoning social media all together. I need it for work and my volunteer positions, and I like that it helps me stay on top of academic and extracurricular events, activities, rehearsals, practices, games, and performances. I also really enjoy seeing pictures of my friends' kiddos and watching cute kitten and puppy videos... I am, however, planning to pop on fewer times a day - probably once in the morning after the kids leave, once around lunch time when I'm taking a break from work, and then once again in the evening before I climb into bed and start reading. In between those brief visits I will (try to) only pick up my phone to respond to texts and answer calls.

Wish me luck!

What's on your resolutions list this month/year? Whatever lies ahead of you, good luck!

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