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Out With the Old, in With the New

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Every year, like most people, I make my New Year's resolutions on Jan. 1. And then I battle with them for the rest of the year. This year, I promised myself I would run at least one race every month. I ran two in January -- nothing like starting off the year with a bang! -- then promptly sprained my ankle at my February race and again during my March race. That left me hobbling for my April race at a much shorter distance than I had originally signed up for. By May I had recovered and had stellar runs in May, June, July, and August. And then I broke my heel in September, and there went that resolution. Here I sit the last day of December, still unable to run, let alone walk for exercise. Guess I won't be making the same resolution for 2013.

Then there was my daily yoga and meditation resolution. The yoga one was a gimme, as I have been doing daily yoga for years. But it's always nice to have something in there that you know you will actually stick to. The meditation one is another "repeat" resolution -- it's been on my list for years. To my credit, this year was the best year so far for this particular self-promise. I didn't quite get to a daily habit, and I fell off the wagon on more than one occasion, but here on the last day of the year, I am still meditating on a fairly regular basis.

As I spent the weekend working through Leonie Dawson's life and business planners for 2013 and Laura Vanderkam's 168 Hours, I realized something. Two things actually.

1) There are only so many hours in the day. Maybe the reason I can't seem to make my New Year's resolutions stick is that I am trying to add more time to my 24-hour day. And as Laura Vanderkam points out, as much as we might think we would get so much more done if we only had an extra 15 minutes each day, that's likely not the case.

If you're not living the life you want in [your] waking, non-job hours, why would bumping that up change anything? ... If you aren't practicing the flute in 72 hours per week [168 hours per week minus 56 hours for sleep and 40 hours for work], it's just silly to assume this would happen if you had 73.75 [an extra 15 min a day] hours to work with instead. -- Laura Vanderkam

Which brings me to my next point.

2) New Year's resolutions won't stick if they really aren't a priority for you. This brings up two questions you should ask yourself before making any New Year's resolutions. 1) Do I really want to do this? If not, then don't do it. If yes, why haven't I before? 2) If I have tried before and failed, do I know why I failed? And don't give some nonsense answer like "I didn't have time." You had time; you just didn't make it a priority. And that's the truth behind my annual broken New Year's promise to meditate. It hasn't been a priority for me. I don't like to do it. I find it uncomfortable and often boring. I've got great meditation apps. I've put it into my planner, but I've also found countless other things that "needed" to get taken care of during my scheduled meditation time. Lesson learned: If I am going to make the same "resolution" this year, I need to really want to do it and figure out how to change the conditions that made it fail in the past.

Here's the place where we muck it up. We set our NEW resolutions, our NEW goals, our NEW dreams... without ever taking stock, coming to terms with and clearing all the days and months that have gone before us. -- Leonie Dawson

So where does that leave us? As I see it, you have two options for this year's resolutions:

1) Do what you've always done and start kicking yourself around Feb. 1 when you realize you've fallen off the wagon yet again.
2) Spend some time crafting your resolutions before you add them to your list. Do you need to give something up or re-prioritize your time to make it happen? Do you need to analyze what's gone wrong in the past and address those issues before trying again?
3) And I guess there's always option #3: Vow to not make any New Year's resolutions this year!

Regardless of what you decide to do, here's hoping your new year is bright and your resolutions actually stick this year. Happy New Year!

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