In this photograph I am standing high atop a mountain on Tenerife, Canary Islands as part of a 4X4 Jeep Tour with a wonderful group of fellow travelers in December of 2012. I was traveling as part of a long-planned Transatlantic Cruise on the Celebrity Silhouette that took me from Rome to Florence, Genoa, Provence, Barcelona, and the Canary Islands, followed by a week crossing the Atlantic. I plan to do it all over again in 2013, this time from Barcelona up the coast of Spain! I finally figured out that that the strategy "work hard and play hard" brings much more health and happiness than "all work and no play"!
Happy New Year! Are you excited about all the wonderful possibilities? New Year's Day is one of my favorite holidays because it provides a traditional springboard for starting a new chapter in life. It is like opening windows on a Spring day to let the fresh air flow freely through your house. Unfortunately, unlike the first day of Spring, popping the cork on the champagne bottle falls in the dead of winter forcing us to pursue our New Year Resolutions in cold, often bleak weather.
Timing for this annual rite of self-improvement typically ensures immediate obstacles to motivation and enthusiasm for those who faithfully draw up long lists of 'shoulds' - improvements like lose weight, exercise, cut debt, spend time with family, and so on. Then, just as faithfully, folks lose interest over the course of days and weeks only to resuscitate the long list of 'shoulds' on a New Year's Day in the distant future.
If this sounds familiar, the good news is that you do not have to repeat the Groundog Day Syndrome in 2013. Instead try something different: a new approach and process with a one-word theme and just one (or a few) resolutions that are fun and aligned with your passions and the things that you truly value in life. Build your resolutions around things that you love to do, so that you can do what you love and enjoy the journey every single day in 2013! Who says New Year resolutions can't be fun?
Since 2005, when I began using myself to test what works and what does not work for making and keeping New Year's resolutions, I have learned that simplicity rules the day. More, more, more is not necessarily 'better' when making New Year Resolutions. That said, I must offer a disclaimer: From the outset in 2005, I approached my resolutions with old fashioned common sense. It does not sound very sexy, or exciting, but it does work.
Many of my failures occurred when I zoomed off my path of tried and true common sense strategies and behaved like a superwoman-helicopter-superachiever because I thought I could succeed against all odds. It is an easy trap to fall into, particulary in the New Year when you are bombarded by a cascade of advertisements that lure you with the siren calls of: 'NEW YEAR! NEW YOU!' Complete a resolution every month for 12 months! Or worse: Complete a different resolution every week for 52 weeks! Make all your dreams come true and live happily ever after today!
Please resist the siren calls. Run the other way. Don't fall into this trap again in 2013, it is not sustainable for the long-haul. All or nothing strategies that promise quick results and require a multitude of daily hours rarely last, or end with long term success.
Instead keep it simple and build your resolutions around your passions. Desire is key to success. You have to want it. Based on my own positive experiences, I urge you to try a one-word theme with several specific, manageable, measureable resolutions that are nested inside the theme.
'Gratitude' is a continuing theme for me. In an effort to show gratitude and give back for my many blessings in life, I made four resolutions around this theme in 2008. My number one gratitude resolution was (and is) to devote my time and money to organizations that are working to find a cure for breast cancer. I raise money for cancer research and walk 60 miles in the Susan G. Komen For A Cure Breast Cancer 3-Day in Washington, DC. Two other gratitude resolutions enable me to reduce my carbon footprint by recycling and engage in PreMeditated Acts of Kindness.
My fourth gratitude resolution - to volunteer on a horse rescue farm - continues to languish on my 'sometime in the future list' because there are only so many hours in the day. I still intend to pursue that resolution, but something must come off my 'active resolution list' before I can make it happen. Like most folks I have a very full plate of pressing daily responsibilities, the 'must do's'. Earning a living to pay my mortgage and healthcare costs often trumps my abilility to work on my resolutions. I choose my resolution priorities carefully because time and money are limited and prescious commodities. Small daily steps do add up to big results over time, but you have to pick your passions and your activities carefully (unless of course, you are a millionaire with unlimited time and money).
One way that I have creatively worked around this delimma is to build some of my passions into my work and business. Travel, for instance, is a continuing resolution theme for me. In 2010, I bought a Cruise Planners franchise and added it to my existing business, which was "originally" structured around my passions. I provide strategic communications, fundraising and photography services to Members of Congress, associations, nonprofit organizations, corporations, and government in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Region.
I added fundraising cruises, meetings on ships and corporate incentive travel to my list of services and have had a ball learning the cruise planning ropes. But finding the right formula for my own professional success did not happen overnight. I have been growing my business since 1997 and nurturing my career for more than 30 years. Taking small daily steps paid big dividends over time, but I had many failures along the way, as well. I never gave up and I tried to learn something from each and every stumble.
In a nutshell, strong desire, common sense, creativity, passion, hard work, structure, and a plan are key ingredients to New Year Resolution success. There is always a way to succeed if you are smart about choosing your path and willing to make a seemingly endless course corrections once you are on your chosen path.
With all of this in mind, today marks an opportunity to fan the flames of desire. Pick a passion that you would fervently love pursue, then tackle it patiently and passionately, with enormous persistence, via small daily steps. Keep in mind, just 30-minutes spent each day on your dream in the next 365 days adds up to 7.5 full days! Just one hour each day adds up to two full weeks. Imagine the possibilities!
Personally, I plan to continue my one word themes of gratitude and travel in 2013. They are Lifetime Resolutions that are embedded in my day-to-day life for good. My new resolution theme for 2013 is: finish. I have wonderful creative projects that I have been working on for nearly a decade that are so ripe and so close to completion that I can taste it.
While I am ready to pick the creative fruits of a decade of labor, first I have to take some things off my plate, roll up my sleeves, and build a plan that will generate momentum wth small consistent victories over the next few years. "Yes" a few years. What is a few more years when you are enjoying the ride?
Here is a little mantra that I use to motivate myself: Ultimately I will hit the finish line with a broad smile and arms raised above my head because dreams are labors of love that are worth every ounce of sweat and tears. Dreams are marathons, not sprints, and giving up on the race is never an option despite the obtacles. I will keep myself going day-after-day by reminding myself: For every setback, there are 10 small victories that will take me 10 small steps closer to fulfilling my dreams.
If you are ready to pick your own passions - and you are are willing to nurture and grow them until they are ripe on the vine - please peruse the tools, exercises and handy work sheet that I have created to provide structure for the journey:
- I Resolve To . . . Work Sheet
- I Resolve To . . . Common Sense Tips
- I Resolve To . . . Choose The Right Resolution
- I Resolve To . . . Defuse Resolution Landmines
- I Resolve To . . . System For Resolution Success
- I Resolve To . . . Fifth Annual Challenge: 365 Resolutions For Health & Happiness
If it turns out that you do not have anything specific in mind, why not join me in taking the Fifth Annual I Resolve To . . . Challenge: 365 Resolutions For Health & Happiness. The objective is very simple and you can start anytime: Do at least one thing each and every day to promote health and happiness for 'YOU'. Banish the 'Someday, Someday, Someday Syndrome'. Instead, make every day New Year's Day. Make every day count with 'Daily Resolves'. The list of possibilities is infinite and can be tailored to your own dreams, resolutions and daily goals. To see my personal 'Health & Happiness Tapestry', click through my 2009-2013 Photo-Resolutions, each one documents my journey toward greater health and happiness! Resolve365 in 2013!
Remember: I Resolve To . . . Achieve My New Year Resolutions, One Resolution, One Day At A Time For One Year.® It's your choice. Do it today. Turn your resolution into reality in five simple, common sense steps: Dare To Dream, Decide, Define, Develop A Plan, and Do It Daily. Make your resolution a permanent Lifetime Resolution, something that's with you for good! Above all, Be A Resolutionista, someone who makes resolutions, keeps resolutions, and enjoys the journey! Let's Go For It!
Need More Inspiration? Wear Your Resolution By Visiting The I Resolve To . . . Shop At CafePress: IResolve To . . . Resolutionista Gear And By Joining The Official I Resolve To . . . Group At Gather.Com. Get going on your 2013 New Year Resolutions with the I Resolve To . . . Work Sheet. View my 2009-2013 Health & Happiness Tapestry by clicking through Daily Resolve Photo-Resolutions.
Kim M. Simpson - January 1, 2013
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