New Year's resolutions are fleeting things. They are notorious for lasting a few weeks and then going by the wayside. As proof, my gym is packed the first three weeks of January. I have to wait for an elliptical almost every time I go; however, by the fourth week of January, everything is back to normal and I can work in a mostly empty gym again. So I advocate sitting down now, the first of December and spend a month analyzing what was, what is and what will be. I suggest doing thing in an orderly, 4 week process.

Week 1 - What was (accomplished)

Spend December 4 - 10 journaling every day about all you accomplished over the year. Don't invest a single, long session doing this. Do this in spurts - in coffee shops, while waiting for the kids or your loved one, as you are in bed and winding down for the day. Try to list everything from small ("I found a store with really amazing kale") to huge ("I started my own business"). Don't prioritize or rank. All accomplishments are valuable. Also, list the accomplishments your family achieved. You a their support person, so their accomplishments are yours. Don't guess. Ask them what they have achieved this year. If you are caring for a loved one, ask them. Their reality may be altered, but what they believe they have accomplished is as real as your real accomplishments. One of the accomplishments on your list may be that your father BELIEVES he has started and is running a new business. This process gives you an appreciation of all the year has brought you and gives you an area to refer to when the future weeks start making your feel like you didn't do what you intended to do.

Week 2 - What is (left on the plate)

From Dec 11 - 17, journal about what you would have liked to have happened, but didn't. Don't look on this as wallowing in negativity. Don't get emotional. Just list factually what is still on the plate unfinished. This is also a time to add new items you would like to see tackled in the coming year. Again, involve your family and loved ones. Find out what they still have pending. On the last day of the week (December 17), go through the long list you have created all week and scratch through anything your have no control over. Sure, you would like for your loved one to regain some of their short term memory, but this is highly unlikely. We are creating a realistic list that you can take charge of and carry into the new year.

Week 3 - What will be (your projects for the new year)

From Dec 18 - 24, go through your list of items you can control and assign them to three lists. The "Project" list is for items on your list that have more that one step in their completion,  but that you would like to work on right away.The "Someday" list is for projects that have more than one step, but you see happening later in the year. The "Actionable Items" list is for items which require one activity to complete. Take a week for this. Remake the lists several times until they feel right. This is not an exact science and it is not an intellectual exercise. Notice I said remake the lists until they FEEL right, not until you THINK they are right.

Week 4 - The final plan

From Dec 25 - 31, look at each of your "Projects" and pick out the next one or two steps you can do right away and add them to the "Actionable Items" list. Any step that you find that would take under 2 minutes to complete, just do it and be done with it. Again, take your time. Enjoy the process. Envision doing each item on your list.

Now, start the first week of the new year with an actionable item list, not a resolution. Revise the actionable item list every day by pulling things off of the project list and combining them with tasks that crop up. If a "task" crops up that has more than one step in it, add it to your project list and just put the next actionable item or items of that project on your actionable item list. Now you have started the year with a short list of things you can accomplish every day. These individual, daily lists, taken over time will become projects crossed off of your "project" list allowing room to more items from your "someday" list to your "project"list.

So, as an example, if starting a workout program just didn't get done last year (as it has not gotten done in many years past), the steps in that project might be:

1. Get list of gyms in your area
2. Pick top three gyms on your list
3. Go look at gym #1
4. Go look at gym #2
5. Go look at gym #3
6. Compare three gyms and pick one
7. Sign up for gym program
8. Meet with personal trainer for program suggestions
9. Establish weekly workout schedule and add it to calendar
10.Go to first workout

So, your actionable items that might go onto your list for the first week of January might be only #1 - maybe #1, #2 and #3, if you are really energetic. No need to push. Remember, this is just one of many projects on your list. Small progress every week will result in successful results throughout the new year.

Have a productive and eye-opening month and hit the ground running in January with a plan, not a resolution.

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