Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Seasonal Resolve

Written by Jonah Lisa

New Year’s Resolutions tend to get a bad wrap these days.  By the time we’ve got busy lives and kids and the thrill of a drunken night ringing in the New Year has long worn off, we’ve become cynical about making resolutions.  Most of us don’t even bother.  And if we do, we might do so with a sigh and half the feeling that resolutions are kind of silly.  Who really keeps them anyway? 


Let’s put that cynicism to bed for a minute and try to take back resolutions this year.  
After all there’s something really natural and incredibly useful about contemplating the past year and considering what we’d like to improve upon in our lives.  I’ve felt it strongly this year.  That sense of new beginning.  But I’m so culturally wired and the backlash is so strong that I still have that knee-jerk reaction against resolutions.  What gives?  I think I just need a paradigm shift.
I’ve spent some time noodling it and I think I’ve put my finger on follow-through being the problem.  While it’s great to look back and assess an entire year, thinking about the same goals for a year can be daunting.  Let’s be generous, most new year’s resolutions last until, what, March?  Well, instead of calling that a failure because we didn’t last the whole year, let’s just shorten the duration of the resolution and all it a success!   
Let’s focus on shorter-term, seasonal resolutions.  It’s a Win-Win!
We get to bask in that fabulous new start feeling, use the motivation of the calendar to make some changes and actually feel a sense of accomplishment by succeeding over 3 or 4 months.   Then we can reassess in March or April and make new resolutions right when the New Year motivation is waning and we’re starting to feel another natural beginning as Spring arrives!
For me those Spring resolutions will probably carry through summer, too and by September I’ll be feeling all different--ready to begin a school year and hunker down for the coming winter and change my focus yet again.  Time for new resolutions! 
This seasonal approach just feels way more organic to me and way less of a remedy for disappointment.  It also allows me to be more specific about the resolutions I set, which motivational experts will tell you is a key to success.  
Instead of being vague and saying I’m going to eat more healthy foods and exercise more--whatever that means--I can really target some specifics that feel right seasonally.  This year I’m resolving to cross-country ski more and learn to cook dried beans.  Doesn’t that feel way more doable?  In the spring I may aim for hiking to the top of some local mountains and drinking more green smoothies.  See what I mean?  
It’s really just a small mental shift but it takes resolutions back from “why bother” land and sets you up for success.  

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