Every new year brings an onslaught of New Year’s resolutions . Many will make resolutions to eat better, to lose weight, to exercise and to give up something they love (like chocolate). Personally, I always find myself making resolutions that are less about health and more about self-development. This year, among others, my resolutions include: to increase patience, to be less judgmental, and to be a “better” person (ambiguous, I know).
In theory, self-development resolutions may sound good, but the challenge lies in how to measure them. Unlike health-oriented resolutions, which are very tangible and quantifiable, resolutions that revolve around our character and personal development are much harder to measure. For instance, when it comes to becoming healthier, you either go to the gym three times a week or you don’t; you either cut back on your junk food or you don’t; you either lose weight or you don’t. Resolutions around character however, aren’t so clear cut. How do you quantify that you are being a better person? How do you know you are being less judgmental? How can you be sure you are being more patient? And, maybe more importantly, how do you keep yourself accountable?
These “softer” resolutions and intentions require some deeper introspection and a higher self-awareness to really understand if you are successful in the transformation you want to make. In A Whole New You – Six Steps to Ignite Change for Your Best Life , I discuss the importance of self-awareness and how it is instrumental to making any change you want. As a matter of fact, my Second Principle of Change states: Self-Awareness is the Foundation for Change.
If you have created some of these “softer” resolutions, the most important thing you can do is keep yourself accountable by staying aware of your intentions. Using the example of “being less judgmental,” here are some ways to do so:
Write Them Down: Just as if you were trying to lose weight , keep a resolution journal. Write down the resolutions you are hoping to stick to in a place where you can remind yourself daily of your intentions.
Create an Action Plan: Write down ways in which you think you can keep your resolutions. For instance, if you are hoping to become less judgmental, you might specify that you will 1) refrain from judging a person before getting to know them, 2) refrain from thinking or saying negative things about others and what they do, and 3) find something positive to say about anyone with whom you think you are inclined to judge.
Journal: Each day, document in your journal what you have done (or haven’t) to keep your intentions. For instance, if you meet someone new and thwart judgment by implementing some of the strategies from your action plan, you’ve been successful and should write the story in your journal. If you meet someone new, however, and resort back to typical judgmental behavior document that.
Rewrite History: If one of your stories doesn’t go the way you had hoped, come up with a new story and journal what you could have changed to change the outcome. Not only will this raise your awareness, but it will also help you think through ways in which to avoid repeating history.
Journal Until It’s Natural: Ideally, at some point you’ll start to see a change in your behavior and hopefully, your resolutions will become second nature. If this occurs, congratulations! There may be times when you feel that you go through some regression. This is natural (we all slip up some time). If your regression continues for too long, pick up your journal and start working on your resolution again.