Brand new year, same old me.

Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? Did you end 2015 swearing to lose weight, spend less time on Facebook, eat kale, climb a mountain, or learn to walk a tight rope? Do you think you’ll be able to accomplish those goals? Are you going to spend most of this year beating yourself up because you didn’t learn to walk a high wire or get to the top of Kilimanjaro?

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My post it note reminder system.

I make resolutions, often on New Year’s Eve, or my birthday (or if I wake up with a hangover, resolving to NEVER DRINK AGAIN), and I’ve found that the best goals, the goals that I’m most likely to meet are S.M.A.R.T.

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Results oriented
  • Time-bound

Maybe it’s a holdover from my years working in retail, where goals are everywhere and sales associates, stores, and districts are constantly working to achieve goals, but that acronym is practically burned into the back of my eyelids. I see it every time I blink. While I may no longer quantify each of these factors in my resolutions, my most successful resolutions meet item on this list.

I made a few resolutions in 2015, and I like to start a new year by seeing if if I achieved any of my previous resolutions, and by setting some new goals for the new year.

  1. I resolved to end the year in a better financial position than I started it in. It may sound vague, but there are some measurable achievements in there. Did I end the year with more money in the bank? Owe less on my debt? Have a higher income? Better control over my spending? I’m proud to say that I met this goal. It was helpful for me to involve my husband in this one. When talking about money last year, we often said to ourselves “what is the goal? To be in a better financial position at the end of the year than the beginning” Actually referring to our goal helped us work towards it. We said it so many times that we didn’t even need to finish the statement. All we needed to say was “what is the goal?” and then we’d be better motivated to make the hard financial decisions. I’ve even been known to mumble it to myself when the urge to ‘add to cart‘ is overwhelming. But there’s still work to be done on this front, and I’m rolling this resolution over into 2016. I resolve to be in a better financial position at the end of 2016 than I am right now.
  2. I resolved to get a public library card. I had a vague understanding of what the library had to offer, and I wanted to begin to take advantage of all of the free resources available to me. I can proudly say that on December 30th, 2015, I strolled into my local branch and signed up for a library card. I achieved my resolution. My resolution for 2016 is to use my library card.
  3. Last year I resolved to focus on my own happiness. I tend towards depression, and I find that keeping an eye out for the positives in life helps me stay on the happier side of my personality. 2015 was a stressful and challenging year and while I came out of the year with a smile on my face, I think that I can work harder in 2016 to put my happiness ahead of my worries and my fears. So to this end, I’m going to roll out an old promise to myself. I resolve to say ‘yes’ more often. Not like in that weird Jim Carrey movie (conveniently called Yes Man) where the dude had to say yes to absolutely everything, but a less extreme version of this same idea. I’m an introvert and a homebody, especially when I’m feeling sad, depressed, or too fat for pants, and this means that I sometimes say no when I could have just as easily said yes. I resolve to try harder to go and do things when invited.  Full disclosure: I have both succeeded and failed at this goal in the early days of 2016. I said yes to meeting a friend at the dog park on Sunday morning and we spent the better part of an hour walking in the snow and getting to know one another a little better (and petting a number of super cute dogs in the process). But then later that day I said no to joining some other friends at a spin class. I’ll be super honest here, besides all of the fake reasons for not going (dinner with the husband, laundry, being ‘tired’) I said no because I didn’t think that I could keep up. It was a stupid reason to say no. I know that my friends don’t judge me like that. I know that my friends don’t care how well I can ride a stationary bike in a room full of strangers, with nothing but a pool of sweat below me to mark my performance. So I’m saying it here and now. If they invite me again, I’m in.
  4. I resolve to write more in 2016. Specifically here. I’d like to make it a weekly habit, but I’ll settle for monthly
  5. I resolve to clean out my garage in 2016. This may be my least achievable goal, as my garage is a dumping ground for garbage, recycling, bicycles, construction materials, sportsball equipment, roller derby equipment, old furniture, tools, tires, beer bottles, and general dirt. I dream of being able to park my car in my garage. I resolve to give it my best effort. I promise that if I’m successful, I’ll buy myself a garage door opener as a reward.

Let’s notice a few things about this list: No where do I resolve to lose weight, stop being lazy, or quit…anything. It’s been a few years now since I’ve ‘quit’ anything, and the last thing I quit was being hard on myself. I’m not perfect, in fact, I’m far from it. But I refuse to spend my life hating myself. I believe that if I do more good, it leaves less room for the bad stuff.

Whatever your resolutions are, I encourage you to see if you can frame them in a positive way. Drinking more water may mean less thirst for pop. Eating more vegetables may mean less hunger for junk food. Doing more yoga, or running, or learning to dance means more energy and less interest in the real housewives of wherever the hell they’re from. More nights out means less nights in front of the T.V. with a bag of chips. More reading means less Candy Crush.

It’s incredibly hard to do less of something. By resolving to more good, we may find that we have less time, energy, or interest for the less-good stuff in our lives.

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