The start of the year is an exciting time to be a coach. Fired up about the year ahead, people are looking to make it a great one. When asked about my own New Year resolutions, most are surprised when I don’t get overly excited about this well meaning tradition.
It’s not that I’m against New Year resolutions. After all, what can be bad about declaring that you’re going to be nicer to your cousin or eat more kale? At the start of a new year we like to express our longing to be better and do better.
So why my reticence toward resolutions? It’s not that I am opposed to them. It’s just that they fall short of fully supporting us to sustain our intentions. It’s why my local fitness center just sent me a half price membership offer—they’re counting on me being a “no show” come March.
If you are going through a divorce, your New Year resolution might have been “to get my divorce over and done with.” The challenge with such a declaration is that its fulfillment is not within your control. Your spouse and the court calendar are just a couple of the many factors that take the timing of the conclusion of your divorce out of your control.
Maybe you resolved “to survive this year.” After all, there is a good chance that this is the most difficult year of your life. You have countless challenges and changes so your energy is likely to be diverted or depleted. While survival may feel like the best you can do, the thought of it does not leave one enthusiastically inspired.
A better approach is to identify the intention which underlies your New Year resolution and to create a small goal around it. And when I say small I mean small. Your divorce demands a huge amount from you—-time, money, emotions, physical energy—you only have so much to go around.
Make your goals SMART:
Attainable (Did I say small?)
Relevant – Is it meaningful to you?
Time based — Set a date “by when” you will complete your goal
For example, transform your new year resolution to exercise more to a SMART goal like this:
I enroll in a fitness class by February 1, 2013.
For your resolution to be more organized, try:
I repaint and organize my closet by June 30, 2013.
If you resolved to be a better parent, your goal might look like this:
I take Alyssa to get a library card by March 15, 2013.
Put your goal in writing and post it where you will see it. Because fulfilling goals during a divorce can be tougher than during other times, be sure to build in support for reaching your goal. This could be as simple as joining an online fitness support group or texting a friend each week to let them know your progress.
It’s not that I’m against New Year resolutions. It’s just that I prefer celebrating my success over berating my failure. And because you set a date by when, you know precisely when the party can begin.