Best Way to ‘Keep’ Your Resolutions

This little trick took me years to figure out. And I actually think it’s better because you don’t end up disappointing yourself.

Admit it – that’s the worst part – letting yourself down. You start every new year with lots of hope and then three months later all the excitement is gone – and then you start to skip a day here – and then there and before you know it – you’ve settled back into your old ways.

Am I right?

I’ve cured myself of all that. No, this is not a commercial pitch, even though I’m realizing as I write this it’s really starting to sound like one –

A few years ago I changed my thinking – instead of making resolutions, I decided to embark on projects.

So this year I want to enter a gingerbread house contest. I give myself one year to do it. Will I fail? Maybe, but the point is I enrich my life with new experiences.

Two years ago I made a goal of getting published in as many magazines as I could – ended up in like four of them. (Some of the articles are re-posted on this site.) I got rejected more times than I can count, but I still got published.

And then last year I tried to write a party food book – still working on the layout, but I got three cocktail articles published in the Reno Gazette-Journal.

This year – I’d like to finally write my screenplay I’ve been talking about for a long time.

The idea is to not pressure yourself. You can accomplish a lot in 12 months. And notice I really didn’t say when you can start these projects. It could be tomorrow for all you know. Just keep track of it – so if you start January 7th, 2012, then you have until January 7th, 2013 – of course, assuming we’re still alive by then!

Projects also make me feel better. I’m doing something over a long period of time. Unlike say instant dieting – if I cheated and had cake two weeks in, I’d feel bad. My way allows for failures. It will happen – just accept it.

But I think the best part of doing projects is that it changes every year. How many times have you tried to lose weight? And only focused on that one?? It doesn’t allow for personal growth.

Start thinking ‘I’ve always wanted to learn about X’ – then take classes about X, buy books on X, search the web for X – invest in your brain. It feels great.

But — don’t spend too much time on projects. You don’t want it to become like that house project you’ve been talking about for years and never even started it. This is not the same thing. Focus. Make it fun.

Hopefully the project you chose makes you better-rounded.

What do you think?

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