I saw something on Instagram that made a lot of sense. Don’t set a New Year’s resolution! Instead …
Set a theme for the new year
Now I’m a believer in SMART goals, definitely at work where accountability is crucial. But in other areas of life, maintaining accountability for everything 24/7 can get tiring. And sometimes a focus on a single SMART goal can make you lose sight of the big picture.
For example, losing weight is a common New Year’s resolution, right? A lot of people vow to lose 15-20 pounds by spring, when we peel off the winter layers and feel more exposed. (It’s really easy to hide under sweaters and coats!) But what if you don’t lose those 15-20 pounds? How do you feel? You feel great if you do lose them. But if you don’t, you shouldn’t have to feel like a failure, like there’s something you didn’t achieve. Why not set the goal with more room to achieve it, something more aligned with a big picture. Like, “live healthier.” To achieve this goal, there are many things you can do daily:
- You can eat more healthy foods.
- You can sit a little less, move a little more.
- You can do more things that make you feel happy.
- You can get more sleep.
- You can get outside and breathe fresh air more often.
All these things help you live healthier. You can take a different step every day toward the goal. If you really want to build in more accountability, write on a calendar daily — write what you did that day that fits the theme. You get the variety of having different ways to become healthier. And you may find that you also lose weight by living healthier! But your goal is broader. More like a theme …
Living with a theme and broad goals is more likely to lead to a sustainable lifestyle change. You make little changes in different areas of your life, and over time, they add up to big change. If one of those little changes drops off, it’s okay, you’re still doing the other changes. That’s a success! When we feel successful, we’re more likely to keep doing what we’re doing. This is why the idea of a New Year’s Theme really resonated with me.
So what’s my 2016 theme?
Oh yeah, I get the irony.
I got the theme idea online, on Instagram. I’m writing about the theme online, on this blog. But after this post, I’m logging off! I’m not going to mindlessly visit Pinterest or Facebook or blog analytics. While there are many life benefits we get from being online, there’s a whole life to live offline too. I’m afraid we’re forgetting that between smartphones and laptops and tablets and all the time they demand from us. But it’s our choice to let them take over. Read that sentence again. It’s our choice. Those of us old enough to remember life before 1995 remember a life with no internet at all. Cell phones were car phones. The fact that cell phones are still used in cars is another issue — if you’d like to know what I do with my workdays, I work on preventing cell phone distracted driving including hands-free. Yes hands-free is not risk-free! When we literally can’t put our phones down, it’s a problem. Life shouldn’t be lived through a phone. Or a computer screen. I don’t believe that’s really living all that life has to offer.
Offline, I want to move around more. Sitting can kill you. Yes it can. Go Google it (but not for too long!). I want to fix up more things around the house – like DIYs that actually involve plugging a tool into an electrical outlet. I NEED to get on airplanes more often — big jets and our little four-seater airplane — and go places. I want to paint more. I want to go big with that. Today I’m assembling a 40″ x 50″ canvas, to finally paint an idea that’s been mulling around in my mind. It’s time for it to flow out through the paintbrushes. First, I’m gonna test it on small canvases. I want to paint our kitchen cabinets. I want to build a large patio wrapping around the sunroom on the back of our house.
All these things are Living Offline. Maybe I’ll build the patio. Maybe I won’t. Heck, maybe we’ll finally sell our house this year instead, which we’ve been talking about for years. That’s a big idea and big work. I’ll get some of these things done. And I’ll surely do other things I haven’t thought of yet. By December 31, 2016, I’ll have a whole long list of things I did offline in 2016. That will be a big success!
So … what is your theme for 2016? What change do you want to make in your life?