So, how did your week of reflection go? I hope you learned some things about yourself. I hope you learned some things about how you get tasks and projects accomplished. I hope you learned some things about what derails you from finishing what you start.
But what about resolutions for 2018?
If you look at Google’s definition for “resolution,” you will find that it gives two meanings: 1) a firm decision to do or not do something, 2) the action of solving a problem, dispute, or contentious matter.
Notice that it says firm decision to do. Not a plan of action to accomplish a task.
To me a resolution is weak. It has the ability to climb, descend, loop, and corkscrew according to my mood any given day.
Take for example some resolutions I made in the past: I resolve to write more. I resolve to eat healthier. I resolve to practice my violin more. I resolve to keep my house clean.
To address what I envision myself accomplishing for the year 2018, resolutions don’t have much of an impact.
- Many resolutions are written so broadly that we have no idea how to begin to make the needed changes in our lives.
- Usually, we try to adopt so many resolutions we can’t begin to remember them all.
It was suggested somewhere that you should write down all your resolutions and post them where you can see them and read them every day. Really? I tried. Some days I remembered to read them, but most days I saw them in the morning and was either too tired to read them or in too much of a hurry to care.
- Once we miss, or avoid, a resolution for a day or a week, we feel that we have blown it for a year so why bother. The resolution fades away into the sunset.
This is the same reason you see numerous people join a gym in January, and by the end of February, the member card is just taking space in the wallet.
If not resolutions, what?
On April 1, 2010, a good friend of mine, Kelly Epperson, held the first meeting of the Rockford Area Happiness Club. A joke? NO! Kelly’s mission is to spread joy and happiness. Each month she presented different techniques to release our stress and bring happiness into our lives. She also brought us speakers who made presentations related to our happiness. Just to give you an idea, we learned about therapeutic laughter, writing out our anger and aggression and how to release it, crystal singing bowls, and gratitude.
One January, she and her husband taught two techniques that for me are better than making resolutions. Both of these techniques have become mainstream in the recent years.
TECHNIQUE 1: VISION BOARDS
One reason I have such difficulty with resolutions is that they are just words on a page and I have no idea how I plan to accomplish what I want to do.
Enter the vision board.
Even its name says that it is more than words on a page. At its basic form, a vision board is a collage depicting what, how, and the finish of what you want to accomplish during a year. It is colorful. It contains pictures that catch your attention. It is a physical activity that connects you to your goals.
According to Elizabeth Rider in her article for Huffington Post (The Reason Vision Boards Work and How to Make One), “visualization is one of the most powerful exercises you can do.”
Visualization is nothing new. Back in the late 1970s, I had a theater director (Lollie Smith) who guided us through visualization exercises. She believed that if you visualized what you wanted, you would get there. To show us the effect this had, she guided us through the following exercise. She asked us to try to touch our toes and make a mental note of how far we were able to bend. When we stood back up, she had us close our eyes and slowly picture ourselves reaching farther than we had: if we hadn’t touched the floor, in our mind we were to touch the floor; if we had touched the floor, in our mind we were to place our palms on the floor. Then, she had us open our eyes and try to touch our toes again. Each and every one of us were able to extend ourselves past our original mark.
Now, I create a vision board each January and this year guided my step-daughter through the process.
What do you put on a vision board?
Pictures, words, and phrases that inspire you. Ever thumb through a magazine, see a picture of an organized kitchen, and think it would be nice if your kitchen could look like that? That would be a picture that would inspire you to work on organizing your kitchen. Can’t find the exact word or phrase? Cut out single letters or words and collage them together.
Your purpose of creating this vision board is to include the things that you would like to bring to life this year. Think of your life in terms of categories: relationships, financial, career, home life, health, travel, or any other category that you can think of that fits your life.
THERE ARE NO RULES – EXCEPT ONE: HAVE FUN WITH IT!
Ever notice that when you have fun with something you are more apt to follow through with something.
LET’S GET STARTED
First assemble what you need:
A background: a piece of construction paper (or several pieces if you want to have one collage for each goal), a scrapbook, a piece of poster board, a bulletin board (don’t forget the push pins), a magnetic white board (don’t forget the magnets). The choice is yours.
I used a scrapbook the first year I read about putting your goals for the year into pictures. These are two of the pages.
Resources for pictures and words: old magazines, old calendars, old catalogues that you can cut up.
Medium for attachment: tape, glue, glue sticks, push pins, magnets
Writing utensils: markers, colored pencils, crayons,
Other stuff: stickers, favorite pictures, postcards – The sky’s the limit.
Time: This is not something you should rush through. Enjoy looking for pictures and quotes that motivate and inspire you. Divorce your phone. Turn off your television. Remove stressors. Light your favorite scented candle. Play some soothing or motivational music. If it takes you more than one day, it takes you more than one day.
This is my vision board for 2018. I still have some work to do on it.
TECHNIQUE 2: GUIDING WORD FOR THE YEAR
Choosing one word to define and guide your year may sound simple, but it is actually one of the most difficult tasks I’ve had.
It is but one word. I know.
The first year I tried this I choose the word “challenge.” I was going to challenge myself to take a walk daily. I was going to challenge myself to keep up with my paper grading load. I was going to challenge myself to ditch soda and consume healthier beverages. It truly was a year of challenges, and some of the challenges were not prepared for but with “challenge” as my guiding word, I was able to rise to each challenge.
My word for this year: SIMPLIFY. I need to simplify everything I do. I have a tendency to over plan, to over organize, to make things much more complicated than they are. I want to simplify my life so that I may enjoy it more.