There’s only one New Year’s Resolution that I’ve ever stuck with. In 2016, my daughters ages 8 and 5, made me promise that I would only wear sparkly nail polish for the entire year. I love this brilliant take on resolutions from a child’s point of view. You don’t need to punish yourself with six days a week of hard labor at the gym if that’s not bringing you joy (and I know for some it does—power to you!). Simply bring more sparkle into your life. Yes, little ladies. I can do this and I did.
Sparkly polish aside, it’s the premise of resolutions that makes me squirm: there’s something wrong with you that must be changed. Between your hedonist New Year’s brunch (with Bloody Mary, please!) on January 1 and when you go back to work on January 2, you need to become a new person. Not possible! So why waste your energy and set yourself up for failure?
Another way I like to approach the New Year is to decide top priorities and non-negotiables. And for these priorities to pass muster with our brains that are trained to need immediate satisfaction—you MUST articulate why these are important to you and how you’re going to achieve them.
Here are some of mine so you can get the hang of it (and hold me accountable, of course!).
Non-Negotiable #1: Connection With My Daughters:
Why: My daughters blow me away each day with their view of the world, their generosity with love and hugs and their comic timing (nearly impossible to keep a straight face!) Plus, they will not be this age forever. I want to savor this time and remember that I created my own business in part so I can control my schedule and spend more meaningful time with them.
How: Build in solo time with each girl, give them options for how they want to spend it, schedule in class trips and time to go into their classrooms, work with them on a list of activities they want to do with me this year and start enjoying those choices with them!
Non-Negotiable #2: Connection With My Husband:
Why: My partner, my best friend, my love; the one person in the world with whom I would ever share a room and a life.
How: Date nights, expressing gratitude for all he does, giving him space to do things on his own and see his friends, more hugs.
Non-Negotiable #3: Creativity and Joy Time:
Why: The evidence from several experiments is in. I’m my best, most interesting, happiest self when I make the things that bring me joy a priority. And I know when I’m close to losing it that I’ve fallen off track with these things.
How: Running, quiet time, writing, podcasts, friends, connecting people, reading, Prospect Park, coffee.
Non-Negotiable #4: Support Women To Create Careers and Lives They Love:
Why: I’m lit up by helping others. Period. Then, 10X that when I can help others in an area where there’s a gap in resources and impactful help available. There’s a problem to solve here and it keeps me up at night. How do we support women in their careers and in motherhood so they feel like they can stay in the game, trading in a life of deep overwhelm, guilt and exhaustion for a life they’re proud, happy and grateful to live.
How: Coaching, writing, connecting women to resources and new contacts, inspiring, speaking, acknowledging, re-framing, experimenting with new tools in my own life. Being there. Staying in it. Continuing to learn from wise teachers.
Thanks for allowing me to walk my talk in your presence. Once you’ve come up with your Non-Negotiables, I would find a buddy who can keep you accountable. You can set up a time once a month over coffee or a nice meal where you talk about how you incorporated your NN’s into your life. Acknowledge your good work and see what you can tweak. If you’re having trouble fitting one of them in, re-read your why statement. Is it powerful enough for you to buy into it? If not, give it an edit and see where you land.
Congrats to giving up the punishment, pressure and self-loathing of changing your life in one day! Instead you can jump on the path to living an intentional 2017. Phew! See you there.