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It's a Caring New Year. Got Resolutions?

Written by Michele Houck
December 28, 2022
It's a Caring New Year. Got Resolutions?
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We have mixed feelings and experience with New Year's resolutions for the typical human reasons. Mainly, they can be tough to stick to. Small changes are easier, help you feel success and reward and they build good habits over time.
"I wish that I knew what I know now when I was younger." - Rod Stewart

Small Resolution Revolution

I am an impatient person, but I appreciate the work of new beginnings. The new year is a traditional time for a personal or professional "reset." There are a lot of things that family caregivers want to 'reset.' TRUST.

But if we set a bar too high, we may stop making any change that can help us in the long run. Then the cycle of silently blaming ourselves and returning to old routines or behaviors seems uncomfortably comfortable. I've done this more often than not.

So I started thinking about small, little resolutions; tiny transformations of daily agreements with myself, mainly because I needed to feel like I kept a promise to myself. I needed to win at something. Caregivers will get it.

Small Habit Inspiration

Atomic Habits is a book by James Clear. It was recommended by a friend who has more on their plate than me, with family, caregiving, work, friends, volunteerism, and self-improvement. My friends example helped me step back to rethink my capacity and habits.

Then there is James Clear's personal story that gripped me. As family caregivers, we get lots of "surprises" and changes that we need to pivot around constantly. He had that too.

James Clear relates the internal emotional motivation levers to the external rewards with these four steps that help with behavior changes.

He states something that really resonates with me - not focusing on "the goal", but the process or system of getting to the goal—breaking things into smaller, achievable pieces that will eventually become habits. It's a lightning bolt.

Systems are about the processes that lead to those results. Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress. Winners and losers have the same plans.

He does NOT say any of this is quick or easy, but it is doable and results in change over time. Each little step needs to be put into daily practice - like washing your hands, brushing your teeth, or things that become routine.

  1. Make [the behavior] obvious
  2. Make it attractive
  3. Make it easy
  4. Make it satisfying

The author provides techniques for implementing these into creating good habits and inverting them if you break bad habits.

I recommend getting this book, watching his video, or his newsletter. You can download the audio version of Atomic Habits here. The book is also likely available at your local library.

Journals, books and time to plan a resolution you can stick to

How to keep a New Year’s resolution?

So how can you keep your resolutions this year?

Seek support from others. Don't keep these goals secret if they are about your health or well-being. Could you ask others to cheer you and steer you when you are off? Let them know your goals and what you would like to accomplish.

Create a reward system for yourself. Set short-term goals and reward yourself for meeting them.

Have compassion for yourself. No one is perfect. My mom would say it this way; "Honey, never be first in line to put yourself down; there are plenty of people willing to do that for you." Do not beat yourself up; take a moment and keep trying.

Goals or System?

Why does this resolution success framework matter? Like the Atomic Habits example; a game's winners and losers typically have the same goal. They will train for and want to win the game.

Systems are processes or steps leading to an end result or goal.

Goals are good for setting a direction, but a good system that you can break into optimizable actions will help you make and see incremental progress.

Habit or Routine?

Habits are a type of routine, but not all routines become habits. Grrrr?

A habit is something that you do regularly without thinking about it. It's a behavior that is automatic for you. For example, brushing your teeth might be a habit for you.

A routine is a series of activities you regularly do, usually in a specific order. For example, getting up in the morning, getting dressed, eating breakfast, and going to school might be your daily routine.

So, a habit is a specific action you do automatically, while a routine is a series of steps you follow regularly.

Resolute resolutions

  • Time Management
    • This is where change can make all the difference. Time is what we want more of. It is conversely also something we assume we have more of too.
    • CircleOf is a caregiver time management solution with ways to ensure that all the things you need to do with the time you have are visible and as manageable as possible.
    • Care.com is a great place to outsource for help. Families use this portal to find child care, senior care, special needs care, pet care, housekeeping, and tutors.
  • Boundaries for good
    • You need time to yourself to achieve, plan and work.
    • Draw lines with your relatives, friends, and coworkers, and reward yourself when you stick to your boundaries.
  • Get a pal
    • Tell the people around you what you are planning so they can be part of your toolkit for success and they can support you.
    • Friends and family are not minded readers; tell them so you can work together.
  • Unplug for your mental health
  • Try some movement
    • For 10 minutes, even while watching TV.
    • Stretching protects your caregiving back. Yoga can feel intimidating, but stretching is approachable. We like caregiver yoga.
    • Yoga is a "stacked solution" in that you can combine physical and mental exercises.
  • Audit your 'YOU' calendar
    • Track activities that energize you and the ones that leave you drained.
    • Once you figure out what fuels you, try to pop those into your day and treat them as non-negotiable appointments for your health and well-being. They are.

Top US 2023 Resolutions

We are always curious what is happening out there in the world. See what Statista says about the top 2023 NY resolutions.

Classics like spending more time with family and friends instead of on social media also ranked high in the survey. 19 percent of American adults also want to reduce stress on the job next year. -

It's 2023. Caregivers - If there is one hope I wish for us all is that we can lay the foundations of positive habits and routines that yield moments where we feel satisfaction, success, acceptance and calm.

Middle aged woman smiling outdoor in dappled sunlights

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