Kirsten Farris' New Year's Resolution Solution
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"By breaking the goal into something you know you can achieve, you are stacking the deck toward success," Farris says. Photo © Mallory Beinborn/Impulse Photography

Resolutions are not my favorite method of goal setting. In fact, one of my very first articles for GoHorseShow was about that topic. However, if you want to give them a try this year, here are some tips that may come in handy. Most resolutions don’t work because they are too lofty, vague, and are should do’s as opposed to want to’s. On top of that, they remind us of what we don’t have and this creates a huge internal conflict.

Eventually we abandon what we set out to accomplish to avoid the negative feelings that they create. If your news years resolutions don’t last longer that Lindsey Lohan can stay out of rehab, you may want to consider incorporating these Keys to Resolution Success into your goals before the ball drops in Times Square.

Commit to something you ‘Want To’ instead of ‘Should Do’

We all have things in our life that we know we should do, like flossing every day, preparing our taxes before April 15th and cleaning our tack before every show. Logically, we know we need to do them, but emotionally, we just aren’t that into getting them done. If you are going to commit to a resolution, pick something that you really, really want to achieve. Maybe it is to get in shape, learn a new language, or spend more time with your family. Once you decide that you are willing to spend time and energy on something that is important to you, you will want to create a plan to make this happen; after all, anything worth doing is worth planning for. It needs to be something you believe you can achieve.

Your resolution needs to pass the acid test, in other words, in your heart of hearts, do you really believe you can and will make this happen? Let’s visit the most popular resolution that most people make, in case you are wondering, the number one resolution is the “I am going to lose X pounds this year” and lets say it’s 50. If you truly believe you can get this done, then you are good to go. But if you are wavering, you don’t need to abandon your goal, you just need chunk it into doable pieces. While most people would say losing 50 pounds seems difficult, very few would say that losing 1 pound is. Instead of having to lose 50 pounds, you set your goal to lose 1 pound and decide after losing one if you are willing to commit to losing another. By breaking the goal into something you know you can achieve, you are stacking the deck toward success, and you will be pleasantly surprised at what you can do when you take it one pound at a time.

Only bite off what you are willing to chew

I love it when somebody who lives on burgers, beer and butterfingers decides that on January 1st they are going to only eat organic vegetables and Certified Humane Poultry and Fish. The odds of this happening are about 0, and so this goes into the unrealistic and lofty resolution category. Instead of fooling yourself, think of 7 small things you can do that will help you achieve that goal. 

For instance:

  • Skip the 450 calorie drink from Starbucks
  • Replace one high calorie snack for a nutritious one
  • Use egg whites instead of whole eggs for breakfast
  • Replace soda with water one day a week
  • Make meals at home instead of going out
  • When eating out, share a portion with somebody.
  • Have a meatless dinner meal

To do this exercise, you will need two jars or perhaps a decorative container that somebody pinned on Pinterest in the arts and crafts section and 7 slips of paper. Label one container “To Do’s” and the other “Done”. Take a look at your Seven Deadly Diet Sins and then come up with an alternative for each of them. Write each one on slip of paper and place them in your to do container. Each night before you go to bed, pick one from the to do jar. The one you picked is your ‘task’ for the next day. You are picking it the night before so that you can figure out how you will fit it in. Then just run through the next day in your mind, and see how you were able to make this a reality. At the end of the day, move the slip of paper to the done jar, and pick another one. If for some reason, you did not accomplish your task, guess what, you get another shot at it tomorrow. Repeat until all of the slips are in the done jar, and then start over.

Make just one resolution

How many times have you decided that beginning January 1st, you are going to get a new job, find a new partner, learn how to salsa dance and start volunteering at the local food bank? All of those things are admirable, but as time crunched as most of us are, is it realistic to tackle all of them at once? Start with one that you know you can work in, and then feel good about following through on your commitment. Eventually you will work through your list, but when you focus on one thing at a time you will be much more successful in accomplishing what you set out to do.

Pick a new one

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result, so why do we continue to pick the same resolution that we never seem to be able to accomplish? It doesn’t mean that you will never, ever, ever achieve your goal, it just means that you aren’t going to use January 1st as proof that once again, you didn’t get it done. Committing to something doesn’t require a New Year, a birthday, or any special day. In fact, some of the successful changes that we make are not major decisions, or proclamations. Those lasting changes were created because in a single moment, you took action to go after something that you really wanted, and you used internal motivation and drive to propel you over the goal post.

Kirsten Farris is a regular contributor to and a Certified Sport Consultant, Certified Equestrian Fitness Trainer, and the Author of The Workbook for the Equestrian Athlete - A Guide to Showring Success. He was the 2012 AQHA Select World Champion in Hunter Under Saddle with Lyles Al Lie. For more information contact her at: © 2012

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