How to Use New Year's Resolutions

No Resolutions by Kate Ter Haar
No Resolutions by Kate Ter Haar

The last week of the year seems a good a time as any to say a word in favor of the much maligned practice of setting New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve been using them for at least a decade. From not buying clothes for a year (2009), to giving up meat (2012), and setting weekly creativity goals (2013), the new year has been a time for me to set an intention that has been nagging me.

Can the new year find us better people?

Well, my track record may be good, but not perfect. 2015 was my year of giving up soda. Coca Cola to be exact.

I didn’t hold to this as stringently as the others.

However, my overall soda intake for 2015, had I had not set this as a goal, was down. I would estimate I had 52 or less cans/cups/sips, about one a week. Compare that to the 2-3 in previous years, and I’ve cut this sugary habit in half.

My ‘failure’ at giving up Coke entirely taught me two things:

1. Compassion for addicts of all stripes. Because that is who you can relate to when you’re hiding in the kitchen during the party, hunched over a plastic cup, hoping no one sees you with the contrabrand.

2. Awareness of the strength of the call of sugar. This addictive substance is in everything from our milk to canned corn. Taking it away makes the craving stronger.

What am I going to do for 2016? I’m going to keep up this focus on eliminating sugar (hot tea is a great alternative).

And, I’m tackling another major area: Relationships of all types, romantic, familial, and friendly. The idea came to me one day while I was driving around town, frustrated by another petty disappointment and my (over)reaction to it. I’m going to start treating others the way they treat me I decided. I announced this as my resolution with glee.

Then, on another drive through town, listening to the Happiness Podcast, the suggestion came to me in another form.

Treat yourself the way you treat others.

The idea is the same: you give yourself regard, rather than letting yourself come last. No one likes a martyr, at least not in life, while you’re whining about how unfair everything is.

Have you tried New Year’s resolutions? What other successful ways have you found to change your habits and practices?

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