I like fresh starts and I like making resolutions about ways I want to live my life better.
I’ve been working on a post outlining my New Year’s Resolutions-slash-Annual Birthday Intentions ever since my birthday, which was almost a month ago.
However – as much as I love resolutions – I find them overwhelming. I have a tendency to make the same resolutions over and over again, with little progress toward my goals. In my classic overthinker manner, I can spend just as much time angsting over HOW I am going to keep my resolutions as I do thinking of the resolutions themselves.
While pondering my resolutions and my intentions for 2016 and my 34th year, I kept going back to one of the books from 2015 that I can’t stop talking about: Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin.
In Better Than Before, Rubin identifies four different tendencies that people can have when it comes to responding to expectations. Rubin distinguishes between outer expectations (like work deadlines) and inner expectations (such as sticking to a self-imposed diet). There are Upholders – they meet both outer and inner expectations; there are Questioners – they meet their inner expectations but question all outer expectations; there are Obligers – they meet all outer expectations but struggle to meet inner expectations; and there are Rebels, who struggle to meet outer or inner expectations.
After careful consideration, I have determined that I am a Rebel. I can meet expectations when there’s a good reason, or when I’m extremely motivated, or when I just feel like doing it – but there’s no real rhyme or reason behind when I meet an expectation and when I don’t. I can’t make myself do anything, whether it’s stick to a candy-free diet (damn you, Skittles!) or observe a limit set by an authority figure. Impending consequences don’t work – shame doesn’t work – guilt doesn’t work.
BUT – I don’t think this means I can never ever ever keep a resolution. I think it just means I have to be creative about how I make resolutions and how I honor them.
In Better Than Before, Rubin recommends the Strategy of Identity as one of the few strategies that is helpful for Rebels like me. She describes the Strategy of Identity in a video on her website:
Basically, for Rebels like me, it can be really helpful to think about how the habits I want to adopt can be in harmony with my personal sense of identity. I have a handful of resolutions I’d like to make this year, and I am going to do my best to encapsulate each of them in a simple statement that aligns with my identity.
Along with the Strategy of Identity, there are a few other ideas I came up with to keep my intentions. (These ideas were developed during an hours-long birthday coffee date with Tee, who is very good at patiently listening to me agonize over how I am going to keep my resolutions. EVERY SINGLE YEAR.)
- Use visual reminders. Sometimes having my resolutions posted around the house or in my office helps me to remember my intentions.
- Have family meetings. I love scheduling impromptu family meetings. Tee agreed that we could use our meetings to check in on how well we’re doing with our resolutions.
- Track progress on heartsoulmindbody. Serious hand up, this blog has definitely helped me to be true to my quest for better balance. Why not use it to track my progress toward this year’s resolutions?