Thursday, January 1

Resolved: Four Little Things


Sound the trumpets! We kept last year's New Year's resolution.

Our card box is nearly this nice.
Last year we bought an index card box and a pack of index cards (Thank you for existing, Dollar Tree), and each evening before bed, we'd all pause a moment and write down something we'd learned that day, something we'd accomplished, something that justified -- at least in a small way -- our consumption of oxygen for a day.

And in the end, we got this: 2014 -- A Year In A Box.

Every card feels like an accomplishment. And it feels astonishingly good to have concrete evidence of a goal achieved.

2015: A Life In A Book
Moleskine: Book of Life
For 2015, we've decided to move our box approach to a book: A fantastic little Moleskine daily planner, with index-card-sized pages for each day of 2015. And I'm looking forward to a new year, knowing we'll actually have a permanent record of this life that's tearing along at such a fast clip. 

* * *

And that's got me thinking about resolutions in years past. A few years ago I shattered my ankle just before Christmas -- and broke it so thoroughly, and recovery was so marginal, that I wondered if I'd be able to walk again. My resolution that year was to get out of my wheelchair. Several months later I was no closer to regaining my balance, until I met a trainer who gave me my life back, forced me to think about nutrition and health for the first time in my life, and even convinced me I was an athlete. (I detail that story in another blog: HundredRaw.com).

Other years I've made several major life changes (moving overseas, undertaking a college degree, resolving an unsatisfactory relationship, changing jobs, adopting a child) -- usually after months of fighting a gnawing sense of either longing or dissatisfaction. That still, small voice whispers, nags, nudges, and prompts until I finally respond in a way that breaks through the dam and releases a wave of new experiences.  

It's scary, surfing that wave. But it's also exhilarating and joyful and worth every moment. I have learned to love New Year's resolutions because they require me to face my life, resolve whatever's been nagging at me, and reset my course.

* * *

This year I listened to a talk by a very successful, accomplished individual who described the key to his own success: Four things. Each day he set for himself just four things to be accomplished. Fewer made him feel lazy; more felt overwhelming and unachievable. But four things? Anyone could do just four things! 

So this year, I'm buying myself a thick pad of sticky notes. And each morning, I'll set myself four goals for the day. Can't be a shopping list. Can't be a chore list. It's gotta be four things that will improve my family life, my community, my environment, my spiritual life, my intellectual life, my work life, my health. 

* * *

What makes resolutions keepable? How do people successfully get from New Year's Day enthusiasm through the March doldrums, the summer lull, the September distractions, and the Christmas crazies? An interesting study wondered whether people were more inclined to finish projects if they thought about 
a. how much they'd finished, or
b. how much they had left to do. 

We all do both these things, of course, but the researchers found that people who focused more on [guess the answer] were more likely to carry through to completion. What did you guess? The surprising answer was: b. People who watched the clock ticking down, the miles ahead, the number of pages to the end, were significantly more likely to finish their marathon, their dissertation, or their diet than those who spent more time contemplating how many minutes they'd worked, how many miles they'd run, how many pages they'd written.

Eye on the prize!
The take-home message? Face forward. Watch the finish line. Keep you eye on the prize. Don't Bask in the Beginning; Endure to the End

And, of course, have a wonderful, joyful, peaceful New Year!

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Feeling stuck with unkept resolutions? Counseling provides a structured place for working through your swirling thoughts and for finding options, resources, and solutions. If you're feeling confused or angry or wounded or sad, if your relationships or resources aren't bringing you joy, resolve this year to get help from a counselor. Allied Family Therapy is taking new clients, and can work with your most difficult concerns. Give us a call at (425) 429-2230, and we'll discuss solutions that will work for you.