According to CNN, about 100 million Americans make New Year’s resolutions each January. From resolving to lose weight to promising to quit smoking, many of us take advantage of changing the calendar to try changing our ways.
The problem? Only about 20% of us stick to our resolutions. And the reason for that, according to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, among other experts, is that we don’t make our goals reasonable and specific.
I’ve never really been one for New Year’s resolutions. (Each year, it seems, I decide that this will be the year that I stop biting my nails. And each year I nibble them right back off.) But I did use this New Year’s Day as an occasion to reevaluate my Happiness Project. Considering Dr. Gupta’s advice – which, by the way, echoes Gretchen Rubin’s – I asked myself if my happiness resolutions are indeed reasonable and specific.
So I present to you today my Happiness Project 2.0 – with a few tweaks born largely of the transition from an energized second trimester to a sluggish-feeling third.
My guiding idea for Month 3 of my Happiness Project was “Get your house in order.”
- Get your financial house in order.
- Empty your inbox.
- Practice the evening tidy-up.
- Use up what we have.
- Get rid of things you don’t want.
- Don’t buy things you don’t need.
- Hang things on the walls.
- Take time for projects.
I’m sure that neither Gretchen Rubin nor Sanjay Gupta would be surprised to hear that the resolutions that I kept most faithfully were the most specific of the bunch (e.g. “Empty your inbox”) and the ones I stumbled on were the more project-y of the group and the ones that felt like guiding ideas rather than actionable steps (e.g. “Take time for projects”).
Before moving on to Month 4 of my project, I decided to edit my 24 resolutions from Months 1-3 into a more specific, more reasonable 10:
- Eat well. (Thank you, gestational diabetes, for making this much more of a no-brainer.)
- Just do it:
- Tackle a nagging task.
- Observe the one minute rule.
- Empty inboxes.
- Practice the evening tidy-up.
- Spend one hour once a week on projects.
As for this month’s new resolutions – the theme of which is “Love Your Family” – I’m already seeing that I haven’t been nearly specific enough and that some of these will be transformed into guiding ideas (or, as Gretchen Rubin calls them, “Personal Commandments”) in the months to come:
- Be patient.
- Don’t complain.
- Be silly.
- Prioritize physical affection.
- Start your day before the boys start theirs.
- Record memories.
- Cultivate traditions.
And then there’s that little matter of being 31 weeks pregnant, with a c-section scheduled for February 21. I’m tired, I’m achy, and I’m grumpy a lot of the time and imagine that things aren’t going to feel any better during the next 7 weeks.
Am I being unreasonable living by a checklist at this particular moment?
It might seem that way, but, for the most part, I still feel soothed and satisfied by accomplishing small tasks when the challenges of life feel a little greater than usual. And, on my on-going quest for seeking and defining happiness for myself, I’ll take soothed and satisfied. Especially now.
Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Do they tend to be specific and “reasonable” or do you prefer the bold and the lofty?