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On Episode 14 of the Messy Middle Road Trip podcast, we talked about starting the new year with a new, more positive attitude.

We all know keeping New Year’s Resolutions are hard. For many, the best of intentions are quickly canceled out by the realities of everyday life. When that happens, it’s hard to avoid discouragement and falling into the trap of self-criticism. Maybe we don’t need resolutions to have a good year. Maybe all we need is a new attitude. 

Sometime between Christmas and New’s Year’s I received a mailing (an actual paper mailing in my physical mailbox – I thought direct mail was over??) from a local gym challenging me to get fit by Spring. And for only $10 a month.

Ahhh…New Year’s resolutions. We all love to make them, but while most of us have good intentions, we often fall short in meeting our goals.

According to Google, the most popular New Year’s resolutions include:

  • Lose weight and get fit
  • Quit smoking
  • Get out of debt
  • Be less stressed
  • Drink less
  • Spend more time with the family

All are great goals and undoubtedly worth exploration. Each year many of us make a big list of ways to improve ourselves in the coming year, but few succeed in making long-term changes.  But luckily, it’s not our fault. Change is hard and not a natural part of our human nature.  Science tells us we’re more likely to succeed if we create new habits rather than working to get rid of bad habits, which is a lot harder.

Instead of picking a dozen things to change, choose one area you’d like to improve and commit 100% of your effort to that goal. Write it down along with all of the negative or pessimistic thoughts that might derail you. Then write down a contradictory, positive thought next to it.

For example, if you write,  It’s too hard.

Challenge that thought with,  It’s going to take a lot of work, but I’m ready for the challenge.

Or, What if I fail?

Challenge that thought with,  I’ll never know if I don’t try. Even if my first idea doesn’t work, I’ll learn and grow from the experience.

Do this with every single negative thought and then read through the list daily or when you’re feeling doubtful. Think about why you want to reach the goal. How will you feel when you get there? Really think about it and believe it will happen, and you’re more likely to achieve your goal.

Another idea is to find an accountability buddy for support and nudge when things get tough. Publicly declaring your intention either to friends and family or on social media also helps keep things real and prevents you from giving up too quickly.

Of course, you could entirely forgo resolutions and focus more on good health and taking care of yourself. Instead of attempting the impossible, do something every day that’s positive and moving in the right direction.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Make self-care a priority.
  • Move your body every day.
  • Eat more citrus and drink more water.
  • Do one thing at a time.
  • Take a break from technology.
  • Listen to an audiobook while working out or doing chores around the house.
  • Purge a room.
  • Volunteer for a cause that moves you, but don’t overextend yourself.
  • Journal and get creative.
  • Surround yourself with positive people and things.

One final point, and it’s a good one. Whether you succeed with your big goal or not, be kind to yourself and have fun.

You might also like:

Are You a Stressed Out Mid-Life Mess? Meditation Might Help

EO01: Create Your Own Happiness
EO12: Living Big with Wendy Perrotti
EO07: Living with Grace Gratitude and Breast Cancer with Amanda Skypeck