Every year, millions of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, most commonly changes to eating, exercising, and finances. Articles are published every January explaining how to achieve those resolutions. Then, more articles follow with dire statistics of how many people give up on their resolutions by the end of January. However, one of the scholars studying resolutions estimates that about 40% of resolution makers are successful halfway through the year.
I found that resolutions don’t work for me. Instead, I set an area of focus each year. The first year I committed to this, I printed this Focus sketch by Carl Richards, which shows that you should only focus on things that matter AND that you can control.
After having had some struggles with my health and wellness, I decided my focus was “health.” Below the sketch, I wrote, in part: “My health is my number one priority. I make all decisions to improve and support my health, nourish my body, and keep moving.” Throughout that year, as I made decisions, I asked myself, “does this improve or support my health?” I made several big changes that year, as well as many smaller ones. Every year’s focus is not so lifechanging as that year was, but it keeps me focused on how or who I want to be.
When we make resolutions, they tend to be focused on a change we want to make, such as losing weight or working out more. When we switch that idea to a focus on who or how we want to be, it can change our view of ourselves. For example, if you want to lose weight, determine what is appealing about that lower weight that would be part of your identity, and focus on becoming that type of person. I wanted to be the type of person who made my health a priority, and my focus shifted to making decisions that type of person would make.
I like having a one-word reminder of my focus, but it is also important to write down how you are going to achieve that focus. While many would say that you should make it very specific, like going to the gym 3 times a week, I would suggest that it could be a statement or question that you can ask yourself throughout the year. This gives you flexibility to achieve your goal, experimenting with what works best for you; your actions might change based on your situation, unforeseen obstacles, and your accomplishments. If you go to the gym 3 times a week and hate it, a more flexible focus on moving more would allow you to try many other things like swimming, hiking, biking, or skating.
It’s never too late to create your focus for the year. How do you want to live your whealthiest life this year?
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Virginia Asher, MSAFP, CFP®
My whealthiness journey has taught me that there is not one single way for us to live a prosperous life. I'll share what I've learned to help you find your way.