I like making New Year’s resolutions. This isn’t my only check in on goals during the year, but I like the scheduled reminder to look at my progress.
I also love the tools of goal setting. ‘Tis the season of new moleskine notebooks.
Despite my love of online goal trackers, I found over this past year that my most effective method of keeping on track was pencil and paper—colorful paper (that’s my motivator!). Simpler has been better.
Spreadsheets play a big part in my tracking as well. For any routine tasks, I use spreadsheets for check lists, time tracking, and dashboard measurements. I’m spreadsheet addicted. My favorite awesome spreadsheet guy has gifted a bunch of new spreadsheets to his readers this week. I noticed that my husband has been using a spreadsheet to keep track of his ambitious vacation to-do list, so I put the New Year’s Resolution Tracker in front of him and told him it is his. He’s a spreadsheet geek, too, so he’s actually excited to use it.
Simple is better. Use the simplest tracker that works for you, and get on to making your resolutions.
For those of us who relish goal setting, this is one of the best weeks of the year. I not only get to check in with myself and understand what I want, but I have a lot of great advice to read from others because everyone seems to be asking, “What worked in 2010? What are you going to do differently in 2011?”
One short post that stayed with me warned of the danger of setting big goals when we aren’t prepared. The solution? Think big, act small, and start today.
My plan to focus on just one thing worked very well for the holidays, and I’m going to stick with this approach in the coming year.
Make your resolutions a mix. I remind myself to improve my connections with the people I love, upgrade the things I choose to live with, and build my own happiness. Look around to see what you are motivated to start today.
If you need a nudge, here are five goals worth setting this year.
1. Spend Alone Time with Children
Schedule time when you can sit with one child, face to face just to talk, laugh, ask how things are, and enjoy being together.
You’ve heard that it goes fast. Especially if your children are still very small, let me tell you again that I think you’ll be as shocked as I am to find that your time with your children is almost over sooner than you think. Write it on the calendar so you won’t forget. Your child will learn to anticipate your time together.
2. Use Non-plastic Food Storage Containers
By now, you probably have a decent understanding of the problems with plastic. In particular, chemical toxins in some plastics can leach into food.
It seemed like a daunting task, but over the past two years I’ve switched all of the old, round plastic containers inherited from my mother (and from another era) to glass food storage containers with snap-on lids a lot like our popular wean cubes for storing baby food. I took a while to make the complete switch because I just bought a container here and there to keep the financial impact low and to be sure that I had sizes that we most needed. It’s a bonus that the new containers are square and stack well, so there is a lot less wasted space in my refrigerator.
Start with one cupboard or one starter pack of containers and improvise the rest of the transition one step at a time.
3. Schedule Date Night
It can be difficult to tear yourself away from your babies, but you need to. You need adult time to ground yourself and give your parenting time a positive context. Whether it’s a dinner date with your spouse, a night out with the girls, or even a night in when the children go to friend’s house while you stay home, your adult time can be rejuvenating.
When my children were young enough that they had only ever stayed with family or friends away from us, my husband and I traded time with friends. They got one night a week alone while we added their children to our herd then we got one night when they added our children to theirs. Sometimes 6-8 women from our play group left all of the men at one house with babies while we went out. To make this work, you need a circle of trusted friends or willing family. Start by making an offer to watch someone else’s children while they go out.
4. Use Reusable Cloths & Napkins
Go through your kitchen and your bathroom and replace any paper towels or napkins. Everyone in my family now carries reusable tissues in their pockets. I can hear my grandfather saying, “Handkerchiefs! They are called ‘handkerchiefs.’” Whatever they are called, runny noses do not have to mean full trash baskets.
Using reusable napkins and cloth tissues is an easy habit to make for the whole family. It is also a step toward bigger changes when everyone sees how easy it is.
5. Schedule Alone Time with Yourself
Checking in with yourself regularly is essential to making any kind of changes work for you. Schedule time for yourself and don’t break your dates. Don’t put everyone ahead of yourself then wonder where the time went. You could take 15 minutes before your children wake up to walk or shower or write, or you may need to make your Me Time part of your date night deal.
If you already have scheduled alone time, how can you improve it?
Whatever way it works for you, make sure your check in time includes reminding yourself to take several deep breaths then asking, “How am I?” and “What do I want from today?”
Start now! Write down what you are going to do then take even one small step to move you closer to a goal. Your steps don’t have to be the same size every day, but don’t make your plans so ambitious that it’s just easier to forget it. Take a small step then take another if you feel like it.