Although I wouldn’t expect anyone to notice, there was something missing for me at the beginning of the year.

Ever since 2001, when I first began writing a weekly newspaper column, I started each year with a column or blog about my New Year’s Resolutions. (Yes, I’m one of the people who still makes them.) But this year, I didn’t.

I don’t mean I didn’t make a New Year’s Resolution, just that I didn’t write about it. The reason had nothing to do with the resolution itself. I simply had other, more important things to write about. I had just returned from Uganda, and I spent several weeks writing about my experiences there. And of course I had to dedicate one blog post to the birth of my first grandchild.

But now is a perfect time to write about my New Year’s Resolution, especially since it’s still going strong.

What I decided to do this year was create a monthly theme, with weekly projects devoted to that theme. My January theme, for instance, was “Decluttering” – which I’ll probably revisit several more times during the course of the year, focusing on different areas of the house. One of my weekly projects for January was sorting and processing all the papers that seem to pile up of their own free will on the coffee table and kitchen counter. Now it will be an ongoing project to keep them cleared off, but at least I’m off to a fresh, clean start.

I have the monthly theme and the current week’s project written on the whiteboard on my office wall, so I’m reminded of them whenever I glance in that direction. So far it’s working pretty well, and I’m up to date on everything I set out to do.  Granted, we’re only six weeks into the new year, but most people’s resolutions have fallen by the wayside long before now.

I know that one of the reasons this approach is successful is that it has me working on things in small chunks, rather than one big all-or-nothing project. It also requires me to be specific, unlike resolutions like “I resolve to get organized” or “I resolve to lose weight” or “I resolve to be a nicer person.” Not that those aren’t good things to work toward, but they focus on the end result rather than what you’re going to do to get there. And they don’t define precisely where “there” is. There are a lot of levels and degrees of organization, weight loss, and niceness.

This approach isn’t just for New Year’s Resolutions, of course. It can help you accomplish pretty much anything you’d like to do. The key is to take small but consistent – and specific – steps toward your goal.

If this is something you can benefit from, feel free to jump right in. I’d love to hear about it, so please let me know how it goes.

We can meet back here next January 1.

February 8, 2019
©Betty Liedtke, 2019

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