WASHINGTON December 30, 2012 - One reason we rarely follow through on New Year resolutions is that we make them too big. Wanting to exercise five days per week, lose 30 pounds, or learn a second language are all worthy destinations, but focusing on a destination reminds us of all the steps we must take to get there. This sparks our anxiety, resistance, overwhelm, or all three.
Sometimes life requires us to take a leap, as when we must grab an opportunity or lose it, but few people take leaps unless necessity gives them a shove. Without the specter of necessity crowding us like one of Scrooge’s ghosts, it’s time to take matters into our own slight-of-hand.
We can fool our anxiety, resistance, and overwhelm into thinking that nothing is going on by making our resolutions tiny, or micro-sized. If they are tiny enough, they will not create noticeable waves. Success with one micro-resolution can lead to the setting and accomplishment of another, eventually getting us where we hope to go.
Micro Resolution Guidelines
1. Whenever possible, make your micro-resolution a game, or turn it into play.
2. If your micro-resolution makes you feel tired, overwhelmed, anxious, or annoyed, it is too big. Think about effortless, or nearly effortless, action.
3. Make each micro-resolution a convenient part of your daily routine. Do not resolve to make your bed everyday after you have come downstairs and eaten breakfast. Do it before you first come downstairs.
4. If you notice your micro-resolution has become routine, or a habit, you are ready to set a new one.
Micro Resolution Examples
Here is an easy way to get some EXERCISE into your day. Every morning, first thing after rolling out of bed (or after a trip to the bathroom) raise your arms overhead and really stretch. Spend at least 15 seconds reaching for the ceiling. Feel the space between your ribs and vertebrae expand, lengthen your neck and feel your shoulder muscles wake up and relax.
If you have wanted to LEARN the Spanish language but never get around to it, go to the children’s section of the library and find some books that teach Spanish words and phrases. Or, find an app designed to teach the language to children and play around with that.
LOSING WEIGHT resolutions are challenging since people put on pounds for different reasons. You might decide that after eight o’clock in the evening you can only munch on raw vegetables. Or, you could exchange your afternoon chips or chocolate snack for a piece of fruit.
If you cannot give up foods that you crave, add a mandatory fruit snack to your daily intake, or a daily small bowl of raw veggies. If you love candy bars, throw the first bite of each bar away and enjoy the rest. Make the evening desert fruit with a couple tablespoons of dark chocolate syrup drizzled over it.
A Bit of Encouragement
It is better to accomplish one small thing than to feel guilty about doing nothing. Plus, to our inner reward center a large or small success is registered as a success. It helps us feel good about ourselves, makes us a good role model for the children in our life, and encourages us to take another little step.
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