It is almost time to make those dreaded New Year’s resolutions. We all do them every year thinking this time we will stick to them. But are we really just setting ourselves up for disappointment or failure? Before you decide what to resolve, maybe you should think about how to keep them. It is ideally a great idea to make resolutions for the new year. For many the new year means a new beginning, a chance to start over, to improve our lives. However, wanting to change something and actually making that change are two very different things. What we know logically and what we can do emotionally very often do not coincide. How we reconcile that difference can mean success this year.
So how do we resolve this dilemma? How do we turn those well-intentioned resolutions into something more than just a wish? For some the goal it is to live with less junk, less paper, or to have less clutter, or to eat less. Whatever it is the way to succeed is still the same. At Do Not Throw It Away we are familiar with this problem.
The most important step is to think about what is your goal and why? Are you doing this because it is something you want for yourself, or are you doing this because of outside pressure? If it is due to outside pressure, you need to decide if it is something you really want. Why is the outside pressure bothering you? This can be a difficult but necessary first step. It is very difficult to succeed if you do not believe in what you are doing. You cannot be motivated to do something you do not believe in, especially something that you really do not want to do.
If it is for yourself, think about what would stop you from doing it. Everything has a risk and reward involved. What is the risk and reward here? The reward is usually obvious, a more organized life, a neater house, a thinner you, but the risk is emotional. When you are feeling like you cannot do it, that is the emotions kicking in. You need to remind yourself of the reward, and look at what you have accomplished. Push through the emotion and never look at where you have to go. There are many common goals we set like losing weight, being more organized, what is that paper, what is in the refrigerator, better time management. It does not matter what the goal is, tackling them is the same.
The next step is to set a realistic goal. This might be the most important step to succeed. A major reason for failure is setting goals you do not really believe you can achieve. When you do not believe in the ability to succeed you begin to think “why bother, I cannot do this anyway”. If you have lived with a habit for years it will not change in days. If you have gained the weight you want to lose over five years, why do you think you can lose it in six months? If you have five years of paper laying around the house, why do you think you can clean up in five weeks. Set a realistic goal and then test that goal. Spend two weeks or a month working on your resolution. Then take a fair measure of what you achieved compared to what you want to achieve. Is the goal you set realistic. If not reset the goal. You did not fall short, you misjudged the goal due to lack of experience.
Then the next step is to set up a realistic plan to achieve that goal and maintain it. You have tested your time plan. Has it become overwhelming in the long term? Do you need to reassess the plan? If you slip back that is not a failure. Not all progress in life is all forward. If you set a goal of sorting paper three nights a week for an hour and only do two, you did not miss one. You did two! If you feel yourself getting discouraged, do not look ahead. Look back at what you have done. Keep a photo journal to remind you of your progress. Maintaining the goal also means for example, that if you collect paper any new mail is immediately sorted. This prevents more form coming in than going out and starts new habits. Make sure that you have systems in place that make the new habits work.
The final step is to set up a system of rewards for achievements along the way. Pick something that makes you happy. For example, if you enjoy watching a certain TV show, pick a project and reward yourself by watching an episode. Change up the rewards and make it more interesting. Do not give in and watch before you are done. Then it is not a reward.
And most importantly, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t achieve the planned goal. Any progress is progress. Even if the goal you set is realistic, that does not guarantee you will be able to achieve it fully or in a designated amount of time. There are many reasons for setbacks, and sometimes they are beyond our control. As long as the progress is a forward motion, you are successful. Keep going. Deadlines are false endings. Changing any part of our lives is an emotional commitment as well as a physical one. Be proud of your accomplishments.
If your goal this year is to live with less clutter or junk, to live a more organized life or to begin thinking about downsizing, Do Not Throw It Away is here to help you achieve that goal. We can be a consultant, a coach or your worker bee. No job is too big or too small, and no amount of clutter is unmanageable. Let this be the year you succeed.
Let us help you help yourself. Call us for a free consultation and estimate. We service the Middlesex County and Monmouth County area.