Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The 3 Rs of Successful Resolutions

So much of life is about adapting to change. Over your life time-ready or not-you will face educational, occupational, family, and medical changes.  The tradition of setting resolutions at New Years is about creating change on your own terms.  Maybe you have set goals in the past (right before midnight) only to face regret by January 3rd.  There is actually a formula for resolutions, lets look at the 3 Rs of making and KEEPING resolutions.

Review: Take some time to consider the "big ticket" areas of your life-social, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, creative, physical.  Consider first what is working.
Some questions to get you started:

  • Are you pleased with your relationships?  
  • Are you feeling mostly happy/satisfied/calm? Is your worship life meaningful to you?
  •  Do you feel challenged intellectually and/or creatively? Are you taking good care of your physical self? 
Now zero in on what is not working.  Here is where you get critical and examine bad habits.

  • Are you an attentive friend?
  •  Have you been stressed out and taking poor care of yourself and your relationships?
  •  Is your spiritual connection dry or mechanical?
  •  Are you zoning out on mindless techno games instead of plugging into real life or reading something that moves you? 
  •  Emotional eating anyone?  
This review can take a short time, or several days, don't rush it.  You are mining your lifestyle for meaningful change.I did my review last month and decided to focus on friendships this year. I have so much gratitude for the relationships in my life and I want to connect more intentionally. This will be our example for the other Rs (feel free to borrow the resolution if it works for you!). If your review leads you in a different direction just plug your goal and action items into the formula.

Record: Write notes to yourself from the review and identify one or two areas that you want to change.  Record the wish as a positive resolution- "In 2014 I will connect more with friends." Instead of a negative stinking thinking resolution- "This year I will stop being a flaky friend." Now break it down into action items.  "I will make lunch dates or Starbucks coffee breaks with friends." Make the frequency reasonable like twice a month if you have been sporadic in the past. Write down the friends that you want to invite to lunch or coffee.  Look at your calendar and identify days that are best for you.  Call, email, or text each friend to schedule connection time.  Now that it is on the calendar we get the bonus of anticipation which increases our odds of following through. When the dates approach remind yourself of why you did this so your time is intentional and rewarding.

Repeat: Continue to schedule (and follow through with) your changed behavior on a regular basis. It takes 90 days to establish a habit.  In pursuing this resolution we are trying to change not only behavior, but more importantly our mindset about making time for these relationships.  At the end of 3 mos (90 days), go back to the notes you made during the review phase. Evaluate-- is this small step getting you closer to what you were envisioning?  Would a different small change be better? For example, it might be more meaningful to find an evening time to meet with one of the friends whose available time is different, create a monthly get together with friends like a book or dinner club, maybe arrange a group adventure with some friends who share a common interest. It is not cheating or breaking your resolution to tweak the action items along the way. The important thing is you are moving closer to your true longings- improving the life journey this year!

Bad habits can be difficult to tackle as a resolution because there are so many layers to the problem of a long standing self defeating pattern.  This year I recommend that you begin practicing the 3Rs by starting a new healthy habit- healthy for your social, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, creative, physical lifestyle.  Let your success in this area bring some momentum to addressing areas where you sabotage your precious self.

If your review leads you to thoughts of enhancing your marital relationship-Shel Harrington (one of my friends)  has created a post on resolutions for couples- great ideas for action items!

Anyone want to share their resolutions for 2014? I welcome your comments.


  1. This makes it easy to take action, Lisa. It was helpful to hear it's not 'cheating' to revise and tweak over the year - it's so easy to get in the 'all or nothing' frame of mind (as in: "Oh well, I already screwed it up so what's the point?") And thank you very much for the blog shout-out!

    1. Glad to send readers your way Shel- you always have great ideas. Good luck with your 2014 resolutions!

  2. This is wonderfully helpful, dear Lisa! I've been working on goals, and I will link to this on my blog.

    1. You have always been great about setting (and making) writing goals Sonia- glad if this adds to your skill set. I appreciate the linking!

  3. This is an easy-to-follow system, Lisa. I shared it on my FB! :) Happy New Year to you!

    1. Thanks so much for the FaceBook Love! Hope the system is helpful, New Years is such a handy "fresh start" time. Celebrate change!

  4. I love these! We sort of do this already, but having it in writing gives me a sort of instruction manual. Thanks. I haven't finalized my list for 2014 yet, and your post adds just what I need to go into the year with confidence.

  5. Confidence definitely helps! Happy New Year!

  6. This, I can work with for the new year. Great post Lisa!