16 December 2014

Resolution Resources for the New Year

Dear Lissy,

We're about two weeks out from the New Year, and thinking of changes we'd like to make.  Most years I'll choose a word that I want to define my thinking and actions for the upcoming year, but this year resolutions seemed a better fit.   Whether you're rebooting your life in January, September, or some other time of year, here are a few basic tips and resources for success.

  • Make small daily exchanges, even for big goals.
  • Make exchanges whose input can be measured.
  • Create or join a support and accountability group.

Make small daily exchanges, even for big goals.


This truth took me decades to learn. Big changes to my schedule, spending, eating, and activity level are extremely difficult to sustain long term.  I do far better when I start a snowball with a tiny habit that moves me toward my ultimate goal.  Here are the questions I work through now.
  • What is my stated resolution?
  • What is my real goal?
  • Are there ways to make small, sustainable exchanges rather than a major change and still achieve my real goal? 
Stated resolution:  Get myself and the kids an hour of activity a day. 

Real goal:  Increase our family's daily activity level.

Small changes we can make (brainstormed with the kids)
  • A Wii game or outdoor activity instead of watching a show or playing a board game after dinner.
  • Running upstairs to talk to another person instead of hollering.  Bringing items back to their location rather than leaving them for later (those stairs again!)
  • Choosing a family fun night activity that's active (sledding, bowling, swimming) instead of passive (renting a movie, etc.)
  • Blocking internet usage between school and supper so we are more active instead of crashing
  • Walking instead of driving within one mile of our house in fair weather.
  • Parking at the back of the lot instead of the front anywhere we go.
Notice:  Nothing has been added or subtracted from our normal schedule.

We have found that once we start towards a goal, we gain momentum.  These little, faltering steps soon become a daily snowshoe tromp or family bike rides.

Make exchanges whose input can be measured.


This technique has two parts:
  1. Measure input, not output
  2. Goals have to be measurable.
 We love to hop on a scale or use a tape measure to record our progress toward weight loss.  Trouble is, neither of those metrics can't be controlled -- they only occur as a byproduct of metrics we can control.  A far better way to measure is to record our daily input (water, food, sleep, exercise) and strive to remain consistent.

The second problem is setting goals without clear metrics.  "Eat Healthier" isn't a great goal.  Is healthier different foods?  Fewer calories, fat, or sugar? Fewer snacks?   

Set small, sustainable goals that are measurable
  •  "I will replace my chips at lunch with a serving of nuts."
  • "I will start dinner with either a cup of chicken broth or a cup of raw veg."
  • "I will drink one cup of hot water with lemon before I eat or drink anything else in the morning."
  • "I will get into bed no later than 10:30 each night."

Create or Join A Support and Accountability Group 


I belong to closed facebook groups for my No-S Diet/exercise, my devotions, and watercolor artists. I belong to e-mail groups for home management and home schooling.  I regularly join 28 day challenges in areas I want to grow.  I prefer electronic accountability because even though people move in and out of the group, the support and accountability is consistent.  

Some people prefer a real life person who will give you a phone call or check in with you at church.  I've never had a friend that was willing to keep me accountable long term, so the e-groups work much better for me.

Over the next two weeks I'll write you letters about the most common resolutions women in the 21 - 61 age group make, and practical ways to implement these three principles.

Love you more every day,

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