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How To Make a Great New Year’s Resolution That You Can Actually Keep

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The Ghosts of New Years Past

I do not have a deep history of keeping New Year’s resolutions. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever kept a single one. I’m more of an instant gratification kind of gal, so year-long goal-setting isn’t really my thing.

Spend less time on my phone. Lose the baby weight. Exercise more. Complain less. Be kinder.

Imagine the non-cynical, physically fit person I’d be if I’d kept all these! Such lofty ambitions. Such high hopes. Such a long way to fall.

To me, the worst part about New Year’s resolutions is the nagging sense of ineptitude that follows you around all year after it’s become clear that this won’t be the year you become a new, skinnier, more mindful you. It’s a cycle of failure and it happened to me every year.

Changing the Pattern

But this year, I resolved to spend more time outside. In fact, I resolved to spend time outside every day of the year. On January 1, 2015 365Outside was born and when I made that resolution, I never could have dreamed what it would mean for our family. Not only are we healthier and happier (both well documented benefits of spending time in nature), but also we are more rooted than ever before. Why? Because we chose a resolution that builds on our family’s identity. We chose a resolution that creates a mutual, achievable goal.

Of course I’d like for you all to spend time outside every day in 2016, but that may not be your ideal New Year’s resolution and it doesn’t have to be. The ideal New Year’s resolution is one that sets a concrete, achievable goal with purpose.

Here’s how you can do it.

  1. Choose a value that is central to your identity, particularly one that may have slipped over the past year. We chose adventure and appreciation for nature. Of course there’s also love, kindness, respect, service, etc. but for our purposes, I decided that at this time in our lives, we were most in need of adventure and nature. (To find out why I felt that way, you can read more here.) Use that value to create one sentence about your or your family’s identity. Our example:  We are a family that loves adventure and appreciates nature. Pretty simple, right?
  2. Next, choose something that is actionable and supports the value you’ve chosen. It is one thing to be a family who loves others, but if you don’t do things to regularly reinforce it, you are no different from anyone else who says they love others. Think of something you can do on a regular basis to reinforce that you love others. Because we wanted to focus on adventure and nature, we chose getting outside as our action. More specifically, we chose getting outside every day. Add your action to your sentence about your or your family’s identity. Our example:  We are a family that loves adventure and appreciates nature, so we play outside every day regardless of the weather.  

Voila! You have just created a meaningful, achievable New Year’s resolution. Now, share it with others so that they can help to hold you accountable, or create your own hashtag and post it on social media with frequent updates.

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Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant. ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

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