Jennifer Phelps, Houzz Contributor
A new year means a fresh start -- an opportunity to do bigger and better things than we did last year. But sometimes just looking at our ridiculously long resolutions list gives us a hangover worse than the one on New Year's Day. Why do we do this to ourselves? Before we've dirtied our brand-new gym shoes, we realize we've bitten off more than we can chew. Or we get bored and, just like that, another resolution bites the dust. But fear not. Here are some tricks to help you stick to your goals, whether it's decluttering the house or finishing that novel.
Attitude really is everything. Why do we fail so quickly? Simply put, it's because we tend to create resolutions with the wrong attitude. Instead of celebrating the fresh start, we usually resolve to do something (or 50 things) we feel we should already have done the previous year -- or three.
Who wouldn't dread and resent a goal inherently based on shame and guilt? That's no way to start a new year, is it? The kicker is that we do this to ourselves. If we don't address our attitude and the habits that got us in this pickle in the first place, we'll fail before we start (or pretty soon after).
Find the sweet spot. Inventory what's right in your life. Whatever your circumstances, being grateful for what you have will put your resolutions in perspective. Remind yourself that purging the old will make room for something new, literally and figuratively.
If creating order in one part of your life will help you feel empowered or peaceful amidst chaos in other parts of your life, then put your focus there.
Use decluttering or purging as a meditation. Each item (or habit) is a part of your story. Thank the item for its story, close that chapter and move on.
Dig a little deeper. Avoid being punitive or hinging your self-worth on the accomplishment of your resolution. If you want to be good to yourself and accomplish your goals, be realistic about why your house is cluttered, for example. Are you stressed from work, moving, caregiving a parent or child or spouse? Do you have health issues or are you just plain exhausted? Adding the strain of a resolution often will only make it worse. If you have to address underlying factors first, do so. Find the root of the problem, then take slow and steady steps in the right direction, and you'll start breathing easier in no time.
Set attainable goals. When you already feel bad, setting yourself up to fail makes you feel worse, so set smaller, attainable goals to accomplish over time. Don't overwhelm yourself. Just declutter one room a month, exercise once more each week or 15 minutes longer each visit, write 10 pages a day or say no to organizing that bake sale.
If you have a big project, limiting yourself to bite-size parcels of time is less intimidating and, therefore, more productive than wasting an entire weekend avoiding it entirely. Make your goal reasonable and make it measurable. And seriously, this is a personal resolution, not an act of Congress. If you've overreached or need to reevaluate your plan at any time, you can!
Yes, in fact, you do deserve a medal. Celebrate the little victories. Take a moment to pat yourself on the back for each drawer you tidy, each bag you donate or each mountain you climb. Celebrate with small rewards each month you stick to your plan. And if there's something big you've been wanting, go for it! Give yourself big rewards for big accomplishments.
It's more fun with friends. Finally, let's face it: Agreements we make with ourselves are easy to fudge. So find someone to commit with -- one person or a group. Whether your resolutions are the same or different, encourage each other, confess when you fall behind and, most important, share rewards and celebrate your accomplishments great and small.