Emily posted this back in January 2012 but it’s good to revisit as we head into a new year. Enjoy!
New Year’s Resolutions. Blah blah blah. Even if you started January off with a bang, we’re 12 days in. Which is more than enough time to fizzle out and fall back into your old habits.
In college, I worked at a gym for three years. I always found it funny that our numbers tripled on January first. Like clockwork, we had a big group of eager exercisers with shiny shoes and good intentions. By the time February rolled around, we were back to our regular group.
I’m in the same boat. I always love the promise and purpose of setting resolutions. I can hammer out a list faster than you can say type-A personality. I love having a plan. Sticking with all my ambitious goals for an entire year? That’s where it gets tough.
Then 3 years ago, a flash of inspiration hit me: What if I don’t bite off an entire year’s worth of resolutions, but break up my goals into months instead? My husband was willing to give it a shot. We sat down and listed out 12 things we would like to accomplish in the coming year and attached each one to the month that seemed to fit it best. The results? It worked, and we were hooked.
Each year’s list looks a little different. We mix and match and rearrange. Our goals last for one month, then we move on to something else (You’d better believe the first thing I do in February is make a big fat chocolate cake). There is definitely some carryover, though, and some goals we try to adapt for the rest of the year. If you have older kids, you could have them help you build your family’s list!
Here are some of our favorite goals from past years:
January – Cut out desserts.
February – Do a cooking or crafting project 2 times a week with the kids.
March – Buy only essentials. Cut out all extra spending.
April – Read 2 books each.
May – Try 4 new-to-us restaurants.
June – Organize the garage & declutter the house. Hold a garage sale.
July – Meatless Month (Too ambitious? Try 2-3 times a week)
August – Try 3 new recipes a week.
September – Walk or bike ___ miles as a family.
October – Explore 4 new-to-us places in the Pacific NW.
November – No complaining.
December – Celebrate 25 days of Christmas (Advent & activities).
Here are a few reasons we stick with it:
:: It gives us an opportunity to tackle those items gathering dust on our to-do list. In past years, we have included things like building a fence, refinishing a cabinet, and organizing pictures into our months. It turns those good intentions into an action plan.
:: It helps us become more disciplined. It could be something as simple as cleaning bathroom sinks once a week to something as challenging as working out five days a week. We all have areas of our lives where we wish we were more focused and consistent. Just think: March could be devoted to flossing your teeth! Your dentist will thank me.
:: It breaks us out of a rut to try new things. We love to eat in new restaurants, cook new things, and explore new places. By setting a number and making a plan, it actually happens. I hate getting to December and thinking, “We didn’t do anything new-challenging-interesting this year.” A monthly resolution solves that.
:: It challenges us to think outside of the box. Are budgets tough or savings nonexistent for you? What if you cut out all unneccessary spending for an entire month? Trust me, it’s much harder than it sounds. We did this for one of our months last year. I cut out all implulse buys, avoided Target entirely, and forced myself not to shop as a form of entertainment.
It was an eye-opening experiment. Did we carry it over into the next month? No, but the lessons stuck with us, and it’s something I hope to do for one month out of every year just to keep us on our toes.
:: It takes the sting out of New Years Resolution failure. Most people I know don’t make “resolutions.” Why bother? I won’t stick with them anyway. With our monthly plan, sometimes my husband and I have great success; other months are complete flops.
We don’t get discouraged about the months that don’t work out, though, because there is a new challenge around the corner. This year, with so much up in the air, we are planning to set our goal/resolution each month instead of charting out an entire year.
Read Kari Patterson’s post, Setting Manageable & Measurable New Year’s Resolutions, for more on this topic.
Leave a comment! Does this sound like something that would work for your family? What would be on your list?