I stopped making New Year's Resolutions a few years ago when I finally realized that making a list—without doing more—wasn't going to magic my perfect life into existence. At about the same time, I cancelled my monthly gym membership when the same harsh reality dawned—you do have to go to the gym to see some results.
I've always been stronger on the planning side than the doing side. Better at dreaming than sweating the details. I always blamed my inability to fulfill any of my resolutions on lack of willpower, being a procrastinator or a perfectionist. The fact is that the way we traditionally make resolutions sets us up to fail and, the more we fail, the worse we feel and the more resolutions we have to make and so it goes on.
If you're really ready to make some changes, here's Stand Up Mama's three-step plan for making New Year's resolutions that simply refuse to be ignored.
Step 1: Passion
Passion is something that was always missing in my resolutions. My list looked like an updated version of the "Ten Commandments"—"Thou shalt not eat foods thou enjoyest, thou shalt not spend money on things that bringest thou joy, thou shalt force thyself into a torturous exercise regime, blah blah blah."
At this point, my true self put its fingers in its ears and started shouting "lalalalalalalala" to ensure it didn't hear a word of any such nonsense.
Now, how about rephrasing a little and considering eating only foods I love and nothing else (you'll be surprised how sensible your body is when left to its own devices), cutting my debt and saving a little so that I can take my daughters to Disneyland or myself to Rome, going rollerblading with my friends each weekend or taking salsa classes to get my metabolism kick-started. Now my true self has pulled up a chair and is looking interested.
There has to be some damned good reason for a resolution to be on your list. Stop depriving yourself and start living a little. I'm talking about kick-off-your-slingbacks, belly-laughing, toe-curling pleasure. The more passion you feel for something, the greater your chances of actually getting out there and doing something about it. The first time I felt physically fit (and discovered muscles I didn't know I had) was when I first moved to New York and started Latin dance lessons. Walking into the dance studio was nerve-wracking but with a frisson of excitement rather than the heavy feeling of dread I had when walking into a gym. There was a passion and excitement attached to taking dance lessons that made it an absolute joy to go.
If you write a resolution and you are not passionate about the thing itself or the impact of what doing that thing will do (for example, the freedom you will feel once you're out of debt), then delete it and go back to the drawing board.
For some passion tips, look back on a time in your life when you were gloriously, deliriously happy. OK, if that's a stretch, go for the happiest memory your mind can muster. What were you doing? Who was in your life? Where were you living? Take a passion inventory and reintroduce as many of those things/people/places as are possible and/or ethical.