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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

10 Ways to Win at Your New Year's Resolutions


Once a year, we are given a day off to pause and reflect, celebrate our accomplishments in the past year, and create goals for the upcoming one. It's a time to think about what you've learned and where you'd like to go in the coming year.

I've never put too much stock in New Year's resolutions- it seemed silly to do something that rarely lasts past January. However, as I've gotten more and more into writing and writing systems, I've begun to wonder if my issues with resolutions had less to do with resolutions themselves or if it was what I was calling them. Would working toward a goal instead of making a resolution be a better solution? To me, resolutions feel like a wish while goals feel like an action. And I've always been a person of action!

According to Time Magazine, these are the top New Years resolutions:
  • Lose Weight and Get Fit
  • Quit Smoking
  • Learn Something New
  • Eat Healthier and Diet
  • Get Out of Debt and Save Money
  • Spend More Time with Family
  • Travel to New Places
  • Be Less Stressed
  • Volunteer
  • Drink Less
Any of these sound familiar? The problem with making any of them your New Years Resolution is that they are such large concepts. They feel like wishes. But when you break them down into goals and those goals into tasks, you get something much more manageable.

Before you get started on your goals, do some research! Take some time and read this article on creating SMART goals. It's just about the best way I've found to help define and structure a goal. Additionally, one of the major steps to accomplishing any goal is writing it down. Don't believe me? Read this article from Forbes, or this one from MindTools, this one from the Huffington Post, or google "how to accomplish goals" (spoiler alert, it's #3 on the list).

Whether you are trying to eat healthier, quit smoking, or just to be less stressed, writing down that goal and breaking it down into smaller daily tasks will help you accomplish it. Using awesome tools, like a fountain pen, your favorite ink and notebook, transforms a chore into a pleasant part of your day. And that's the thing- you're the one setting these goals, creating the tasks, and you'll be the one to reap the benefits of accomplishment. Why not set yourself up to succeed?

Here is a list of helpful suggestions to help make your resolutions goals, and to make those goals a reality.

Goal #1: Lose weight/Get fit
Leuchtturm1917 Notebook with a Lamy 2000
This one can be a doozy. First of all, "getting fit" can mean different things for different people, so make sure you define what you are looking to accomplish. After deciding it means to you and how best to go about it, keeping a work out journal is a great way to keep yourself on track. Using simple organizational methods like the Bullet Journal can help you plan and execute your strategy.

Goal #2: Quit Smoking
Quo Vadis Notebook Lined
Again, keeping a journal during this difficult process can help you determine triggers that start nicotine cravings. Is it with your morning coffee? In the ride to work? After a particular stressful day? Writing them down will help you see them for what they are- just cravings caused by particular stimuli. Changing the lifestyle triggers around your smoking can make a real impact. 

Goal #3: Learn Something New
Quo Vadis Habana Blank Notebook with a Kaweco Classic Sport in Black
There are tons of places to learn new things. Want to know more about fountain pens? Watch our Fountain Pen 101 series! What about taking a sketching course through Liz Steel? Or start improving your handwriting with a course on handlettering from Skillshare? Are you interested in other subjects like history or photography? Try Linda.com or The Great Courses. Taking advantage of online courses will help you learn a new skill while working within your schedule.

Goal #4: Eat Healthier
Rhodia No. 16 Premium Lined Notebook with a Pilot Metropolitan Retro Pop Turquoise
A food journal is a great place to start for this goal. Simply writing down your meals, without changing anything could help you start to see what you're eating and what you need to change. From there, you can start meal planning and creating shopping lists. Make sure it's in an easily transportable notebook or one with removable pages for quick reference in the store.

Goal #5: Save Money
Filofax Pocket Notebook with a Pilot G2
Saving money can feel like a struggle if you don't create a budget. Writing down your financial goals and creating a budget that works with your lifestyle is a good way to begin. Examining your spending habits on paper will give you a better visual representation of where your money is going. Using apps like Mint or Level is another great way to keep your finances in line with your goals.

Goal #6: Spend more time with family
Filofax Notebook Notebook with Lamy Al-Star Purple
The biggest obstacle to this one is making time. Therefore, take a good look at where you are spending your time. Instead of bingeing on the latest Netflix release, institute a weekly game night with your kids. Again- keeping this a scheduled event and marking it down in your planner or journal will set this time aside and make sure you make it a priority.

Goal #7: Travel to new places
Midori Traveler's Notebook
Where do you want to go? Write down what you want from this experience and go from there. I personally think that researching the trip is part of the fun! Spend some time reading up on locations and pricing out different trips. Keeping a travel log throughout your journey can help you enjoy the memories you make for years to come.

Goal #8: Be Less Stressed
Rhodia Medium Webnotebook with a Lamy CP1
Relieve your stress by keeping a diary or starting a gratitude journal. Take the 30 minutes before you go to sleep to record your thoughts and feelings. Refocusing your mind on things you are thankful for will help relieve your anxiety and get you out of a negative thought spiral. As an added bonus, your body will unwind before bed which will help you sleep better! If you are into fountain pens, this is also a good time to experiment with different types of pens and ink.

Goal #9: Volunteer
Field Notes Notebook
Reflect on what and where you would like to spend your time. Is there something that you are really passionate about? What are your skills? Being aware of these sorts of things can help your volunteering be most successful for you and the organization you are volunteering with. Check websites like Idealist.org to find volunteer opportunities in your area that fit your skill set. 

Goal #10: Drink Less
Kaweco Skyline Sport Fountain Pens
Get a hobby! Seriously, I think this is the best way to accomplish this goal. If you are busy writing/knitting/woodworking/golfing, you won't have time for much else. If you are interested in fountain pens, join the Fountain Pen Network and get involved with the community on there. If you find new friends in your hobby of choice, you are more likely to stick with it!

One more thing to keep in mind: since you are setting goals instead of making resolutions, it's OK if you make a mistake. Did you miss a day of your new work out? Not write in your journal? No worries! Tomorrow is a new day to try again. You made these goals to make your life better, not to make yourself miserable, so don't beat yourself up. If you get to March and realize you aren't hitting the targets you wanted, examine the SMART goals again and see if you need to make some adjustments. Just don't scrap the whole plan because you missed one or two marks. Re-examine, readjust, and try again.

Do you have anything you'd like to accomplish in the new year? Are you using any methods to help you reach your goals?

Write on,
Madigan

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