Refreshed Resolutions

Posted on Dec 29, 2009 in Featured | 2 comments

Every year at this time when I hear people asking about and making New Year’s Resolutions, I do something different.

In general, I see Resolutions as a self-inflicted attempt to make myself feel shitty by March. In my early 20’s I used to make Resolutions and it was too easy to lose momentum by Spring. Life gets busy. I would fall off the wagon and it seemed to take even more effort to get back on. It’s harder to make that effort half way through the year when I wasn’t coming off the high of Holidays and New Year’s Eve revelry.

I also realised that I wasn’t making realistic goals. New Year’s Resolutions often seem to lack real goal setting features like being specific, measurable and achievable. If your goal is to procrastinate less, how do you decide if you’ve actually met that goal? (I guess you’ll decide later?) I am not a personal coach or goal setting expert but even a layperson can see the difference between that and something more like “I will lose 20 Lbs by June 1 and another 25 Lbs by Dec 31” or “I will create a filing system for my office by March 1 and plan meals weekly before grocery shopping.”

Resolutions fell by the wayside.

In their place came Reflection and Looking Forward. For about 7 years now, I’ve spent the last week of December going through the process of reflecting on the closing year and looking forward to the next year as a whole. I examine all areas of my life: individual, work, family, friendships, creativity, spiritual and I try to ask questions that allow me to see the big picture rather than focusing on individual goals.

Reflection: What were the prevailing themes of the last year? What were the successes? The challenges? What was I happy with? What would I have changed? If I could boil down the year into one word, what would it be? How did this year fit in the continuum from the year before and the year ahead?

Looking Ahead: What are my hopes and dreams for the next year? Where do I want to focus my energies? What word would I like to predominate the new year? How would I like this year to differ from the last year? What positive things from this past year would I like to carry forward into the new year? What things do I anticipate for the upcoming year (this question relates to things that may be out of my control or have been pre-planned, like expecting a baby or moving)? What can I do to make those things successes or less challenging? What goals would I like to achieve this year? How do I see this next year contributing to the years that will follow? What do I want to build on?

Some of this process occurs at the back of my mind as I go about my daily duties but I always make time to sit down and either write it out or talk it out. In the past I have done this by emailing back and forth with a friend, posting to a message board or having a quiet cup of tea with my husband while the kids napped. I think it’s important to have both aspects: the free-form brainstorming on the periphery without looking right at it and the dedicated time spent solely on the task.

I’ve been doing this for so long that I end up beginning the process around Boxing Day without even realizing it. The questions just start bubbling up and I don’t shy away from them in the same way I eventually shied away from the idea of a Resolution. This process doesn’t seem tinged with potential failure from the beginning. It allows me to close the year feeling positive rather than unhappy that I didn’t reach my unattainable goals.

I will post my finished product on Monday January 3. Feel free to join me. Answer the questions that speak to you. Make up your own. Focus on a theme or particular aspect that compells you. Write a blog post any time in the first week of January and link to this challenge. Then come back and link to your post in the comments section on my January 3 post. I look forward to seeing what you’ve got.


  1. I’m with you on this one. I’ve been using a very similar approach for myself for a few years now. I love having a positive plan to start the new year. I try to think about my life holistically and have resolutions for different areas, so I feel balanced. This has helped me to focus on areas which have been neglected in the past year. I also encourage my kids to review and make plans – they’ve been making new year flowers today Happy New Year to you!
    .-= Cathy´s last blog ..Child-friendly New Year’s resolutions =-.

  2. What a great idea! Since I read this post yesterday, I’ve been ruminating on those questions. I’ll join you in posting on them by Monday.

    btw: love the tumblr layout! I use one for the work I do with youth in the Presbyterian church. The new blog layout is awesome for you!

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