7 Tips for Making Commitments in the New Year

Are you making a New Year’s resolution? Many of us will. I can guarantee the attendance at my gym will grow exponentially after January 1. I also know many us won’t keep our resolutions. Attendance at the gym returns to normal by Valentine’s Day. I prefer commitments to resolutions. Commitments seems more substantive than resolutions to me. That’s probably just semantics though. Regardless, here are a few things that I keep in mind as I think about my commitments throughout the year.

Start with Celebrations

We live in a fix-it culture. We are always looking to fix what doesn’t work. We rarely celebrate what goes well. In fact, I don’t think I know anyone who celebrates enough. I certainly don’t. Take time to celebrate what went well. You can learn a great deal from what has worked for you. Take time to celebrate what doesn’t work. You can learn great lessons from that as well. Don’t lament mistakes; celebrate the learning. Take time to be grateful. We are convinced that when you have lots to be grateful for you’ll be happy; however, when we are grateful for what we have we are happy.

Take stock.

Take time to reflect on where you are at. Get outside your immediate circumstances and take stock from as objective a point of view as you can. What about your life is better than you imagined it would be? What are the ways that you’d like to make some changes? Think about the little things that would make a big difference if you did them regularly. Too often we overlook the power of daily habits to shape us. Think about the big things. Too often we are afraid to be bold in our thinking and actions. I’ve found this guided (free) reflection helpful.

What are your values?

I often get caught up in the immediate and lose sight of what is important. I can easily get focused on what needs to get done and then spend time on the things that don’t really matter and put off the priorities in my life. It is helpful for me to really think about what matters most to me and let that guide my life. What are your core values? Are they guiding you or are they a bonus when you have time?

How can you want more?

Think about what you really want. Then think about how you can want more. Assume that you won’t get everything you want. No one does. If you’ll only get part of what you want, then the only way to get more is to want even more. Many of us are afraid of wanting more for two reasons. First, we don’t want to feel like a failure if we don’t get it. Second, we’ve been taught that we don’t deserve to want, let alone get what we want. That is one of the ways internalized oppression and past trauma affect us. More here.

Don’t should on yourself.

Focus on what you want not what others have told you should want. Whenever I hear my internal monologue use the word “should” that’s a red flag for me. “Shoulds” tell me that I’m placing external expectations on myself. My external expectations come primarily from our consumerist culture and my need to prove to myself and others that I am good enough through my accomplishments. More here.

One word.

I’ve been reading via Twitter several folks who are focused on a one word resolution for the year. To me this sounds like a mantra. I dig it. Is there a particular accomplishment, feeling, experience, habit, or practice that you want to focus on? I’m not sure this will work for me, but I love that it forces you to really decide what is essential and focus there. More here.

Make More Commitments.

Make more commitments to yourself and to others. Just like the fear of not getting what we want, prevents us from wanting in the first place, the fear of not being able to make all of our commitments keeps us from making them in the first place. What if instead, we made more commitments than we could keep? We might actually be able to keep some of them. And if we needed to renegotiate on others that we weren’t able to keep along the way, that could still land us in a pretty great place. How can you be bolder in your commitments?

What are your commitments?

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