zen habits : breathe

Resolution Makeover: 5 Things To Consider When Setting This Year’s Goals

Thought is the sculptor who can create the person you want to be. – Henry David Thoreau

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Lynn Truong of Wise Bread and Parenting Squad.

Typical resolutions consist of activities that require some teeth-pulling. Exercise more. Eat better. Stop smoking. These are things we don’t really want to do. These are the resolutions we make and break every year, minutes after writing them down. Instead, we should make resolutions for things we want to do. Make resolutions to do things that you didn’t do enough of or didn’t get to last year. Have you been delaying a trip to Europe? Do you want to spend more time with your family and friends? Make resolutions for things that will make you happy, and you’ll be more motivated to commit to them.

There are five basic things to consider when deciding on your resolutions:

Reflect on what you’re doing with your time, and ask yourself whether things need to be readjusted. Make time to do the things that you really want to do—spend time with your loved ones, make a phone call instead of sending a quick birthday wish in an email, write, read, take a bubble bath. There’ll never be enough time to do everything, but there’ll always enough time to do what’s really important (yes, a bubble bath is important!).

Like time, the inability to manage money is often due to perspective. If you value saving more than spending, you will save more and spend less. Decide what you really want to use your money for. Instead of making the resolution simply to “spend less,” “save more,” or “pay credit cards down,” make a specific goal. Set a goal of x amount of dollars to go on that trip. Know exactly how much you are trying to save each month (realistically!), rather than making an arbitrary end of the year amount or vague statement of where you want your finances to be eventually. It’s easier to put off saving until tomorrow when you don’t have a specific number you are working towards.

Consider the direction of your career. Since you spend most of your day working, you better be doing something you like. Is this what you really want to do? Will this particular job lead you to where you want to be? Don’t get stuck in a place that doesn’t satisfy your aspirations for yourself. Resolve to take your career into your own hands, no matter how scary it might seem.

Having supportive and fulfilling relationships will do more for your well being than any kind of “success” in your career or money in your bank account. Resolve to spend more time with the people you love and who love you, give freely, offer help, and be gracious.

Your health will be what allows you to pursue any of the things mentioned above. If you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, low energy, or any other ailments, then eating better and getting more exercise has to be a priority. Don’t resolve to stop smoking because you’re “supposed” to. Do it because you value your health and understand that your well being is important to those you love.

I hope your 2008 resolutions will be a list of things that make you very happy. Have fun doing them!

Lynn Truong writes for Wise Bread, one of my favorite personal finance blogs, and the new blog, Parenting Squad.

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