Another year is over which means my first 12 months of resolutions are complete! Here are steps to turning your own resolutions into 12 bite-size chunks with tips from my experience. What's on your list this year?
5 Steps to Monthly Resolutions
1. Choose 12 themes or areas of improvement.The monthly resolution idea appeals to me because I rarely am able to limit my resolutions to one or two, and any more than that is just not feasible to maintain for a year. So, I made a list of all those things I've wanted to try and all those lifestyle changes I know I needed--more exercise, better diet, and even fun things like focusing on blogging or improving my point-and-shoot photography.
Start with writing a free-list of anything and everything you want to or should work on. Once the list is complete you can form it into 12 items by either grouping similar tasks into one category or eliminating things you don't really want on your list. See "Choosing Your Resolutions" below.
2. Decide now when you will do your resolutions.Starting a new resolution each month would get daunting if I had to start over in planning every 30 days. I wanted to jump into the resolutions each month with excitement, not obligation. So I decided from the beginning which month I would do each resolution. I started with things that were specific to the calendar year (i.e., my blogging month fell into October because that's when much of the blogging world does their 31-days series), then I scheduled resolutions by season (I've always wanted to do an Advent Calendar, so that became my December resolution, and spending quality family time worked great for when the weather is warm). Then everything else could fill in the empty spaces.
Decide if any of your resolutions are best fitted for a specific month based on seasons or anything already on your calendar for the year. Write these briefly in a planner or on a wall calendar.
3. Brainstorm ideas, but leave specifics for later.Once I chose the themes for each month, I also had a brief outline or short list of resolutions for that month. Some of this changed a bit as I went, but this was a good starting point to keep me from having to plan from scratch each month.
In your planner or on your wall calendar, also add in a few brief notes or ideas of resolution specifics. Is your food month a go-vegan month or a meal-planning month or an all new recipes month? For an organizing month, will you go through a list of areas in your house, try the home cure, or do a 20 bags in 20 days challenge? If you have an idea, write it down. You can change this as needed, but this will work as a default if you don't want to plan anymore throughout the year.
4. Choose your form(s) of accountability.Accountability was a huge contributor to my success. My husband and a few family members knew about my resolutions and would check-in on how they were going or ask about what was next. I also decided to share them on my blog, which kept me motivated.
You could share updates through Facebook or Twitter, invite friends to join you on your resolutions, or schedule check-ins with a friend or yourself. Just make sure you know how you'll be held accountable to follow through. You could also choose little rewards for resolutions successfully completed.
5. Jump into each month refreshed and with a clean slate.I loved starting new resolutions, and knowing that however extreme or challenging they were, it would only be for a short time. Blogging everyday only lasted through October, minimizing lasted through May, not eating out only lasted through March, and taking daily photos only lasted through August. Once one month was over, I was ready for the adventures that lay ahead in the next and didn't feel obligated to keep the previous month's tasks going. This also helped me forgive myself for resolutions that weren't as successful as I hoped (hello, Appreciate April).
Start your monthly resolutions as soon as possible. If you get off track for one of the months, don't let that hinder you from moving on to the next. If one resolution has you feeling overwhelmed, hang in there because you'll be on to something else soon! And don't expect to keep them going longer than a month. If you're inspired by the change, then keep it at it! But it's okay if you want to return to eating out after a no-eating-out month is over.
Choosing Your Resolutions
Be specific.More specific goals make clear expectations and help you know you're on track. Instead of "eat healthier," choose a resolution to "eat 3 veggies a day," "try 5 new healthy recipes," or "avoid products with high fructose corn syrup."
Don't shy away from the extreme.One of my favorite aspects of monthly resolutions is choosing lifestyle changes that are quite a bit different from our norm. Not eating out or avoiding highly process sweets for an entire year would be really difficult or likely impossible for us. But doing those two for a month, while challenging, were doable and a positive experience.
Also be realistic.It's also good to be realistic with what can be done in a month. Taking a photo or blogging everyday for a month was manageable (yet again sometimes challenging), but giving up ALL technology for an entire month wouldn't work with our current obligations. Also, what's doable for one person may not be for another. Organizing my entire apartment in a month isn't too unreasonable, considering I've already done a lot of the work in the past and we have a small space. But that wouldn't be realistic for someone that has put this task off for a few years or has large home with lots of storage.
Try a repeating monthly resolution.Instead of choosing a specific theme for each month (i.e., exercise in January, spiritual life in February, etc.), break bigger resolutions down into manageable monthly portions. Read a book each month, try one new recipe each month, or plan a themed date once a month.
Think outside yourself.We all live for ourselves, looking out for #1--especially when it comes to resolutions. But I think this is a great year to try living for others. There are lots of ways to do that in our own little worlds, locally or globally. Checkout >> 31 Days of Letting Your Lil' Light Shine for inspiration. You could also try a monthly fast (giving something up) to help focus, reevaluate and listen for God's direction.
Here's to a fulfilling year!
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