african american woman celebrating new years eve

New Year's resolutions are great ways to set goals for your life, but, they can also be a trap for self-loathing and disappointment if you do not live up to your intended plan---something many of us are struggling with just one month into 2014. Writing your goals down on paper is one thing, but sticking to them, is another. The word “resolution” can infer a heavy burden that will eventually become too much for many. Making it a point to focus on daily habits that can lead to transformation is more realistic.  Here are 5 common New Year resolutions and suggestions on how you can keep the momentum going.

 

The "Get It Right, Get It Tight" Resolution

You know the plan. You went hard over the holidays and that voice in your head says “don't sweat it; as soon as January 1, arrives you will be back on the healthy grind, so have that second cupcake, or third." Your goal is to lose five pounds, but a ten-day plan to starve yourself then ease into a juice cleanse won’t cut it

In the end, every year you realize that setting the expectation that January will magically change your dedication to working out and eating healthier will at some point fizzle.

Solution: If you know that you have two birthday parties in one weekend, or an upcoming birthday with your favorite cake, the more viable option might be to set small goals like including vegetables in each meal. Keeping a food journal of what you eat each day is also a great way to look at certain eating traps you may fall into and why. Lastly, find a workout buddy and come up with a plan to exercise together and hold each other accountable, so that when you do have that slice of cake, you won’t beat yourself up about it. Practicing kindness and acceptance towards your body will inevitably lead to a more realistic game plan for your weight goals.

 

The "Complete My Life’s Work "Resolution

There's something about a new year that makes so many of us think that our ambition will take on new form and lead us to creating our life’s great work. A change in date is not going to change your priorities; you will. If your goal is to write a film, create an award-winning film or be the next Romare Bearden, think about your work habits and what has prevented you from completing your work in years past. Chances are, it has less to do with it not being a new year and more to do with your priorities.

Solution: “Form a group or ask a friend to hold you accountable in reaching your goals. For example, if you are looking to write a book, set a goal of pages  to write for each week. The key is to be realistic, not overreaching just because it's a new year. This is the easiest way to sabotage any new years goal.

 

The "Spiritual Enlightenment" Resolution

Whether you want to align your chakras, go back to Church, or spend more time exploring your own definition of spirituality, many of use the New Year to commit to a new, more positive awakening in ourselves. We vow to be kinder, more devoted to a cause or our religion. In the New Year, we will give more to our communities, never think a negative thought about others and start a charity. Our very lives will exude the idea of gentle kindness. While a wonderful goal to set, the every day stress and pressures of life sometimes makes the righteous path harder to walk at times.  Don’t beat yourself up about it.

Solution: Becoming more engaged in our own path to happiness is a lifelong process for many people.  Focus on one act of kindness a week, and even if you find yourself slipping, start again another day. Joining a group that meets once a month, such as a mentoring program, is a good way to stay committed to giving back. Keep a gratitude journal that tracks the things you are thankful for and often lose sight of because of the daily grind.

 

The "Stress Less" Resolution

Last year you clocked in 60 hours a week, barely saw your homies and don’t even remember what downtime feels like. In the New Year, you swear to spend more time with friends, family and most importantly, yourself.  But the problem is, you still have the same job, you may be up for a promotion, or your boss is simply not trying to hear why staying at work until 8:00 pm on a Friday is unreasonable. So here you find yourself again, stressed and burned out, with no escape in sight.

Solution: Decide if your current career is truly right for you. I am of the opinion that health always comes first. Wearing yourself into the ground for a paycheck is not only stressful, it also poses health threats if you do not take it seriously. If finding new employment or speaking to your boss is out of the question, commit to going to bed earlier to give your body the recharge it requires, eat healthy, nutrient rich meals to keep your mind and body strong and use the weekend to partake in at least one activity that brings you happiness, such as a language class or yoga.