Happy New Year! It’s day two of the new year…have you set your
resolutions? According to a study published last month, 45% of Americans set
resolutions yet, only 8% successfully accomplish their resolutions. With numbers
like that, it’s no wonder many people opt out of the annual ritual.
I opt in to the annual practice. A mentor taught me useful techniques
that make the annual practice one of my favorite events of the year. I share a
few with you, whether you opt in or not, because they can help you become part
of the 8% who accomplish resolutions that matter to them.
"I do know that when I am 60, I should be attempting to achieve
different personal goals than those which had priority at age 20.”
My sixth grade teacher made our class write a list of one hundred
things we want to do in our lives. My list included ride a camel (done at the
zoo at age 24), visit every state in the USA (done), live on the beach (not
done). Lou Holtz has talked about the same kind of list for dozens of years. It
became famous with the 2007 movie The
staring starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. Many of you
have completed the list in some of our sessions over the years.
Write your list. Where do you want to go? Who do you want to meet? What
do you want to learn, teach, experience, feel, taste, smell, touch, hear?
Without analyzing, take twenty minutes this week to write your list.
The list is important because it helps you live your life on purpose.
Each year, you can review your list to see which items you accomplished last
year and which two or three you want to do this year. Dreaming about life is
not good enough. Make the dreams come true.
For example, if you’ve dreamed about going to Australia, make it
happen. If your budget doesn’t have room for it, make this the year you get rid
of cable television and put that money in a fund for the big trip. You will
feel great every time you skip a show viewing because you are saving for
something more important to you. The sacrifice will build momentum and you
won’t regret it one bit.
The list can help you make decisions too. For example, if your list
includes a desire to have a close relationship with your grandparents, and you
have a dinner scheduled with them, nothing will cause you to miss that dinner.
Friends could call with other options, your spouse might not want to attend, or
maybe you are tired from a long week—you will see those as excuses and will
keep your dinner date. Once you know your priorities, you make decisions to
accomplish them and resist the urge to allow excuses to get in the way.
Simplify your life.
"Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated."
Simplify your life by being extremely selective about how you spend
your time. Don’t fill your time with mind-numbing, energy-draining friends,
hobbies, or media. For example, if you are a fan of the Kansas City Chiefs,
don’t take the coaching change personally. Or, if you are in to politics, limit
viewing of the pundit battles to less than an hour a day. Or, if you have
friends who complain all the time, stop hanging out with them.
Just this morning, I de-friended a lifelong complainer on Facebook.
It’s only the second day of the year, and she’s complaining about her job
already. It occurred to me just this morning that she complains every day, so I
double-checked her Facebook page. Sure enough: all complaints masked as
humorous insights into things like family, the postal system, taxes, work. It
took me a few years to figure this out, but I finally realized she is an energy
vampire who contributes nothing. Delete. Figure your vampires out sooner than I
did. Your life will be simplified by not having such negative drivel occupy
your mind or Facebook feed.
Another way to simplify your life is to clean out closets to simplify
the number of clothing options you have each day. I recently saw a photo of a Paula
Abdul’s closet full of shoes, handbags, scarfs,
and other items. The smug look on her face seems to indicate that she
assumes every woman would envy her fabulous shoe collection. Sure, it was
pretty. But, I don’t want to spend thirty minutes putting an outfit together. I
don’t want to have fifty, sixty, three hundred boxes of shoes only worn once.
Many of you probably agree with me. But, what is in your closet that you don’t
need? Get rid of clothes that don’t fit, haven’t been altered in three years, or
are too far out of style.
(Men, this applies to you too.)
“Possessions, outward success, publicity, luxury -
to me these have always been contemptible.
I believe that a simple and unassuming manner of life is best for everyone,
best for both the body and the mind.”
Take the closet cleaning a step further and get rid of stuff in other
areas of the home. According to the Self Storage Association, the country now
possesses 2.24 billion square feet of personal storage. All this space is
contained in nearly 50,000 facilities. It took the self storage industry more
than 25 years to build its first billion square feet of space; it added the
second billion square feet in just 8 years (1998-2005). (Source: http://www.selfstorage.org
) Don’t even
get me started on the television shows spawned from the growth of this
How much stuff do we really need? Is it useful stuff anyway? I’ve seen
people attempt to write on a flip chart at work and don’t even throw away the
dried up marker. The point is to simplify, so even if something is useful,
consider giving it away if you don’t use it regularly. Make this the year to
get rid of all the extra stuff that fills closets, garages, kitchen cabinets,
and storage units.
Simplify your time and surroundings to simplify your life.
Be specific about what you want.
"If you don't know where you are going,
you'll end up someplace else."
One of the reasons for the dismal resolution success rate is because
the resolutions are not specific enough and many people don’t know how to turn
resolutions in to goals. Below is the list of the Top 10 resolutions from last
Rank Top 10 New Years
resolutions for 2012
4 Enjoy Life to the
5 Staying Fit and
6 Learn Something
8 Help Others in Their
10 Spend More Time with
If you want to lose weight (#1) or stay fit and healthy (#5), increase your
chance of success by being more specific. Take the resolution a step further by
adding tactics like the following:
- First quarter: Get a physical. Take five 30-minute walks a week. Take a
healthy cooking class. Learn about vitamins and identify which would be
helpful. Reduce soda consumption to five per week.
- Second quarter: Continue the walks and add 15 minutes to each.
Eliminate soda. Assess nutrition and identify three additional changes to make.
- Third quarter: Add weight lifting to fitness routine. Take three
different fitness classes to see if any are interesting or helpful enough to
add to your schedule.
- Fourth quarter: Take a fitness class or run a 5k in another city.
Whether you identify tactics quarterly or monthly, be specific. The
most common resolutions listed in the chart are too general. Set yourself up
for success, not failure.
It’s the beginning of a brand new year. The slate is clean. Decide
today how you want the year to be described on its last day. When you
prioritize, simplify, and specify, you live your life with purpose on purpose.
“I advance in life, I grow more simple, and
I become more and more
patriotic for humanity.”
Victor Hugo, Les Misérables