Resolutions for Rebels

I resist New Year’s resolutions. I feel like making a list of “I will do’s” on January 1 seems so conformist. My inner rebel says, “No one’s going to tell me when to change!” Yet I usually make major life changes in the winter months—so it seems there is something to this time of year being a time of change, commitment and renewal.

If you’re a resolution rebel but still find yourself thinking about what you really want in ’09, here are some tips to take you beyond the same ol’ tired resolutions:

1. Think about the feeling, not the thing.
Don’t worry, I haven’t taken a left turn into woo-woo land. Why do we want anything? To lose weight, quit smoking, exercise more, get a new job, find love? Because we think those things will cause us to feel a certain way. Instead of focusing on the thing, skip the middleman and focus on how you want to feel.

Say you want to feel happy, healthy, excited or inspired. You don’t have to wait until you lose 20 lbs to feel inspired and excited—you can find ways to feel inspired and excited RIGHT NOW.

When you feel inspired and excited (or however you want to feel), it’s much easier to stay motivated to reach your goal. And, you’ll have more fun in the process. Because the secret is that trite saying, “It’s all about the journey, not the destination.” is true.

2. Be real.
I will run 3 miles every day! I will wake up at 5 a.m. every day and meditate! I will never eat nachos again!

These might be great goals for someone who’s a dedicated runner, a Zen Buddhist priest or is lactose intolerant. But if the longest distance you’ve run is from the couch to the fridge, you can’t sit still for 5 minutes, or nachos are your favorite joy food, then you need to get real.

Unrealistic resolutions don’t serve you and are a set-up for failure. Then, when you fail, you have more evidence for your crappy belief systems about how you can’t stick to anything, lack commitment, are lazy, etc…

Start with ridiculously easy goals. The more scared/resistant you are to the change, the more ridiculously easy your goal should be.

For instance, if your first impulse is to resolve to run 3 miles every day, cut that in half. That would be 1.5 miles every day. Ask yourself if that would be ridiculously easy. No? Then cut in half again. Say to 1.5 miles 4 days a week. Keep cutting it in half until you say to yourself, “That’s ridiculous, there’s no reason I couldn’t do that.” In this case, you might get down to walking .25 miles 3 days a week. Start there. You can always build up from your ridiculously easy starting point. Now you have a completely do-able goal rather than a demotivating overly ambitious goal.

Now some of you type-A’s are saying, “That’s for weenies, you should just go for it!” If you get out there and you feel like running for 3 miles—GO FOR IT! But if you only go .25 miles, you’ll still have accomplished your goal and will feel motivated to continue. See?

3. Don’t should on yourself.
[Ed. note: I love bringing back these 90’s self-help sayings!]

Many people make resolutions based on what they “should” do. I should make more money, I should join the PTA, I should go to the gym more, whatever.

If you find yourself making a resolution with the word “should” in it, I suggest you seriously re-examine it. Do you really want to do this? Is this resolution based on what other people/society think you should do? Understand your motivation—go back to Tip 1 and find the feeling this resolution creates. If it’s a negative feeling (dread, guilt, anger) dump it.

4. Try a one-word resolution.
Singer-songwriter and coach Christine Kane has a brilliant twist on resolutions. I love it! You simply choose one word (it’s fun to hold yourself to just one) to act as a theme/guiding principle for the coming year.

Mine is GO. (Ooooh, makes me all excited and motivated. Perfect.)

Why GO?
GO is for movement, momentum, forward, fast, energy, diving in, saying yes, hair-blowing-back-wind-in-my-face fun ride.

What’s yours? Comment below and say your word loud and proud.