Denmark is known for perennially being one of the happiest countries in the world. Why are the Danes so happy? Sure, they have a fairly short work week and enviable social safety nets, but what’s the kicker? They keep their expectations low. With lowered expectations, when goals are met, you’re happy. This is the same logic I apply when making my New Year’s resolutions. I always make a New Year’s resolution and the last several years have been able to actually keep them. Want to know the secret to making New Year’s resolutions you’ll actually keep? I do what the good people of Denmark do and keep my resolution expectations low.
If there’s one thing I know about making New Year’s resolutions it is that in January, everyone has the best of intentions. But, as the month or the year goes on, those resolutions fall off the to-do list of life because it’s hard to keep resolutions especially if they’re unrealistic or the bar was set too high. Lower the bar and make your resolutions something you can do every day. If you miss a day, remind yourself there’s always tomorrow.
New Year’s Resolutions You’ll Actually Keep
Here are my very simple, lowered expectation, New Year’s resolutions:
- Go for a walk every day: even on days when I don’t workout (meaning put on workout clothing and stretch for 20 minutes before I head out the door), go outside and walk around the block. I live on a very long block so going around it is about a half-mile. Going for a walk every day was easier to do when my kids were in elementary school and the daily trek to/from school was my additional walk. Even with a regular workout routine, I find that my brain and attitude need fresh air every single day and not just on my exercising days.
- Brush/floss teeth after lunch: after lunch, I do my regular night-time routine of flossing, brushing, and using a fluoride rinse. Not only is my mouth in better shape than it’s been in years, but when I brush my teeth after lunch, it keeps me from snacking. I’ve determined it’s okay to be hungry sometimes and after school snacking or sampling foods while at the grocery store or at Costco can really add to my caloric intake. If I’ve brushed my teeth, I don’t snack. Likewise after dinner. If I brush my teeth directly after dinner, I’m too lazy to do them again right before bed and therefore don’t eat or snack any more that night.
- No swearing: I have a potty mouth. You read that correctly. I really watched my cursing when my kids were little but now that they’re older, I’m not as good about it. When I hit my head on the range hood in the kitchen (which happens often for some reason), my reaction is not “oh, shoot” it’s something else. Or, if I don’t follow my own advice of “measure twice, cut once” when sewing or using the miter saw and I have to start thinking about repurposing again, there are a few choice phrases that come flying out of my mouth. Yes, I control what comes out of my mouth when I need to but sometimes I just let those naughty words fly!
Those are my New Year’s resolutions from 2012 and they’ll be the same ones for the upcoming year as well. OK, so they’re not earth shattering but they’re something I can build on. With these lowered expectations, when my daily resolutions are met, I feel happy. On days that I stay in my pajamas all day, without brushing my teeth, and I drop a brick on my toe, look out! Fortunately, they don’t happen very often but when they do, I remind myself that tomorrow is another day to keep all of my New Year’s resolutions.
Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Do you have a secret to keeping them?
Go Gingham related links:
The biggest stay the same – the reality show I’m pitching!
How to make walking poles – they’re re-purposed ski poles
I love to hula hoop as part of my workout, too - hooping fool love!
Exercise at home – and skip the gym
Our family did a group resolution and we still do it: technology free Sundays