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The Importance of Making Smaller, More Doable New Year’s Resolutions

new year's resolutions

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 by Ellen Blake

New Year, New Mindset

Wow, 2019 is over! How did that happen so quickly? The years seem to go faster as I get older. As I look back over the past 365 days, I realize I experienced good times and bad, and learned a great deal from both along the way.. One lesson I learned is that broad, general New Year’s resolutions don’t stick – at least not for me. I set myself up for failure last year with my grand expectations. For 2020, my resolutions are more specific and provide a plan of action.

I realize now that big goals, such as proposing to eat better or lose ten pounds, sound great but are not easily attainable. A more concrete plan of action is essential for success. For example, smaller goals such as choosing to add a vegetable to lunch every day or limit dessert to once per week are a whole lot more doable. And if you slip? So what. We all mess up sometimes; the important thing is to not let it throw you completely off course.

After a great deal of thought, I crafted five simply worded resolutions for the year ahead. These goals are unique to me and my lifestyle, and designed to enable me to be successful.

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New Year’s resolutions for 2020

Read a book a month

One of my 2019 resolutions was to “be well-read”. I tried, I really did, but stopped in March after reading only 1 1/2 books. My biggest hurdle was not choosing a book, it was getting myself to pick one up in the first place. As someone who works well with deadlines, this year I assigned a time frame for each book. I’ll  check the recommendations provided on Great Thoughts, Great Readers to find interesting novels and am thinking about perhaps joining a monthly book club.

Check cell phone at 1 hour intervals 

My resolution from last year to “be more present” was a big ask. Resolving not to check my phone more than hourly seems much more doable, and eliminates the primary distraction that makes it hard to focus on the here and now. Staying glued to a mobile phone gives a very loud and clear message that whatever is going on right in front of you is not the priority. Emergencies may come up now and then, but most of the time no compelling reason exists to make yourself immediately available at all times. If someone urgently requires your attention, they will call back again; if you leave the phone on vibrate you will know if someone needs to get ahold of you.

Assign a specific time to read and respond to emails

Another of my list of resolutions for 2019 was “better time management”, a huge goal that absolutely needs to be broken down into more manageable pieces. I have a better chance of accomplishing this broad objective one a step at a time, so this year my goal is to work on emails for one hour each morning at 10:00 am and another hour each afternoon at 4:30 pm. The same time each day is preferable so this new behavior becomes a habit, though I realize my schedule requires some flexibility depending on what’s going on. Emails seldom require an immediate response; chances are you check your account more out of curiosity. People will more likely text or call if the message is urgent. Checking your email often throughout the day can definitely be a time waster, especially with all the junk that shows up in our mailboxes.

Give one compliment every day

Hopefully we all strive to be kind and generous as often as possible, myself included, but we can always be better. Resolving to “be kind”, one of my goals from last year, is far too broad though to enable me to really grow to be a better person. Making a conscious effort each and every day to offer a kind word to someone is a much more measurable and doable act. The compliment you give may be the only nice words a person receives all day and you may impact them positively more than you know. Find a way to offer a sincere and authentic compliment to someone, friend or stranger, to make your small piece of the world a little bit better.

Make my home more fragrant

This one may sound odd, but it is one small step toward achieving my general resolution from last year to “enjoy being home”. Because I office from home, work is always there, which makes it hard to relax unless I go out. I have comfortable furniture, interesting decor and pretty colors on the walls, but still have difficulty unwinding in my house. As smell is associated with parts of the brain that processes emotions, different fragrances are said to affect mood, and these aromas can be easily added to a home. Candles, aromatherapy oils and potpourri are readily available in a variety of smells. For example, lavender has healing properties and can reduce stress, jasmine increases feelings of positivity and also decreases stress, and vanilla is a soothing scent that makes people more relaxed and joyful.

The bottom line

I am grateful to have another year behind me – if for no other reason it than provides me with a clean slate with new opportunities. Let’s all focus this year on the whole picture as we work to stick to our resolutions – and not on our slip-ups. We do the best we can and that has to be good enough!


What are your resolutions for 2020? Please share them in the comment section below.


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