My long-neglected RSS feed is, not surprisingly, swimming in New Years resolution-related stuff. And some of it is actually useful.
For example, if you are spending perhaps a wee bit too much time online (ahem), this article in the Washington Post offers some science-based, pretty easy ways to cut yourself some Internet slack, like not bringing your smartphone to bed with you, and going back to reading paper books (and I just got a new Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas!). The best tip is probably the last one, which is to actually track how much time you are spending gazing into the Internet abyss. I bet it works in a way similar to Weight Watchers (another very popular entity this time of year!) in that having to write down every minute online, like having to admit to that piece of chocolate pecan pie at yesterday's New Year's day party (ahem again), both makes you aware of how much you're overindulging and motivates you to put down that browser already!
That article's point about having goals that are relatively easy to accomplish, taking small steps, and paying attention to the behaviors we're looking to modify also are at the heart of this article on how to make resolutions stick from Fast Company. I'd also suggest checking out the Tiny Habits project by Stanford professor BJ Fogg, PhD. I did a session a while back with the program and it really does work, especially when you're trying to establish a new habit (exercise, diet, etc.) rather than get rid of an old one, though it would work for that as well, I'm sure. The key to that one is to keep the new behavior small, tiny even, and anchor it to something you already do, then celebrate every time you actually do it. Once that tiny habit is cemented into your everyday life, you can add onto it.
If one of your resolutions is to be more productive (and of course, you've already broken that down into small, measurable actions that you can track—otherwise, it's just too amorphous to tackle in a meaningful way), Fast Company also has some great suggestions. One thing that really works for me is pretty paradoxical: Whenever I'm feeling most stressed and need to get what seems like 20,000 things done RIGHT NOW, I know it's time to stop everything in its tracks, take a few deep breaths, and reassess. If I step back, prioritize, then do one thing at a time, stress levels drop, productivity goes up, and those 20,000 things turn into maybe three that really do need to happen by the deadline. If I just jackrabbit around from thing to thing putting out fires, no one thing gets done well in its entirety. Works with work, works with everything else too.
I generally don't make New Years resolutions just on general principle, but I am dedicating 2015 to working on strength and flexibility in mind, body, and spirit, and I have a few milestones I'm already working on to help me get there.
Do you make annual resolutions? And do you stick with them? If you're not sure what you want to work on, check out the fabulous Patti Digh's post about the two questions that will help clarify your thinking.
Wishing you and yours a year full of peace and joy.
Bonus: Check out these 14 realistic New Year's resolutions for underachievers from Mashable. Now these I can do!