Every year, it’s the same story. You are motivated and feeling hard core on January 1st, all pumped and ready to conquer your New Years’ goals. Then, by January 5th, your motivation is weaning. Life gets in the way and you find yourself falling off the wagon barely even a week into it. You are not alone. According to this Forbes article, 92% of resolutions fail. Very few people who set New Year’s Resolutions actually stay the course and make it through to the end of the year. For a time, it was believed that it takes 21 days to form a habit. However, recent studies indicate that it is really closer to 66 days. Therefore, if you want to get serious about actually accomplishing your goals, you will need to plan to be intentional for at least two months before it becomes second nature to you.
My typical New Years’ Resolutions consistently involve some type of crazy weight loss diet. And, every year, I find myself on New Year’s Eve about five pounds heavier rather than 30 pounds lighter, like I had planned for myself the New Years’ Eve before. This last year, however, I finally discovered a weight loss approach that worked for me. With the exception of the holidays, I’ve been able to stay on track pretty consistently. Through this recent health journey, I’ve picked up a few tricks and tips for how to actually keep the resolve and accomplish my goals. I’m sharing some of these simple tips with you as we approach a new year. Though my goals were focused on weight loss, these same rules apply for any of your New Years’ resolutions and goals:
Tips for Staying on Track:
- Set REALISTIC goals- As special needs parents, we tend to have several tabs open in our brains, running in the background at all times. Life is hectic and can replicate a tornado most days. Therefore, there are some goals that simply do not work for our daily lifestyle. For example, one thing I know about my life balance is that I do not have hours to spend at the gym, trying to keep up with the 20-something-year-old body builders. But, 10 minutes of exercise each day is perhaps more obtainable.
- Set an actual PLAN- Many people stay up on December 31st, drafting their New Years’ goals, with starry-eyed aspirations, yet no action plan for how to actually accomplish them. Map out your vision. Implement concrete strategies for how to obtain your goals. For example, one of my goals for 2020 is to approach each day with mindfulness and presence. I’m a “to-do list” kind of gal, so I’m easily consumed with the tasks that pile up before me. Most days, I find myself easily frazzled as I’m pulled in a million different directions. My action plan for facing the chaos is to post sticky notes in my house and alarms on my phone that remind me to practice my mindfulness/grounding techniques.
- Build a ROUTINE- Take time to plan out how you will incorporate your action steps into your daily life. For me, if it is not built into my routine and there is no designated place for the steps, it simply won’t happen. For example, back to my weight loss: I can never rely on myself to fit in exercise unless it is a consistent part of my routine. I don’t particularly enjoy exercise. I am not one of those people who likes to spend my free time sweating. If I have a few minutes to myself, I am much more inclined to choose a “lazy” option, like binge-watching Netflix from the comfort of my couch. Therefore, exercise has to be something that is marked for a set time in my day, like brushing my teeth. I wouldn’t skip a self-care routine like a shower or eating dinner, so I have to approach exercise the same way.
- Choose PRIORITIES- Be honest with yourself and accept that as special needs parents, we can not do it all (perhaps this is one of your resolutions…). Decide which goals are the most important to you and prioritize the commitments you are most willing to keep. This most likely means that you may only be able to focus on one to two goals for the year. Give yourself permission to let go of the other less important priorities.
10 New Year’s Resolutions for the Special Needs Mom:
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Now that we’ve discussed tips for staying on track, let’s discuss a list of potential New Year’s Resolutions that might benefit you as a special needs parent. The consistent overarching theme for me and so many other parents I’ve polled out there is focused on reducing and coping with the stress in our lives. There are so many root causes of worry, whether it’s due to relationships, parenting, money troubles, poor health, or our need for approval (a BIG one). Whatever the root, at the end of the day, we all seem to be in search of coping mechanisms. Before drafting my own personal goals, I read a pretty life-changing book titled The Worry Cure. It truly gives you the tools you need to reframe your thinking and identify the roadblocks that weigh you down in your quest for optimal mental health. I highly recommend it if your goals for the new year revolve around coping with stress. Quite frankly, if you are a special needs parent, your life has stress in it.
Therefore, here are some great ideas for self-care resolutions in the year 2020 for the special needs mom:
- Replace negative thoughts with positive ones (i.e., a list of things for which you are grateful, reminders of how things have worked out well in the past, or a list of reasons why you can succeed rather than fail).
- Accept when “your best” is good enough (letting go of the things you can not control and focusing on those things that you can).
- Approach each day with mindfulness and presence (live in and for each moment rather than for the “to-do list.”
- Let go of people pleasing (don’t allow your actions to be guided by the need for approval).
- Work in 10-20 minutes of exercise (whether it’s yoga, a nice walk around the block, free weights or a cardio tape in your living room), exercise will help keep both your body and mind stronger and healthier so that you can better face daily challenges with confidence.
- Plan healthy eating daily (rather than going on a “diet,” find a healthy eating lifestyle that works for you. When you eat better, you will look and feel better).
- Get outdoors more often (the Vitamin D, sunshine and communion with nature are great for lifting depression and anxiety).
- Set aside self-care time weekly (even if you have to schedule an appointment on your calendar with yourself, it is crucial that you build in time for the hobbies that you enjoy).
- Build in time for journaling/bible study (this is a great way to articulate and release the various feelings and emotions that often accompany life as a special needs parent).
- Give 2020 to God.
While that last resolution is presented at the end, it should be first and foremost in our daily lives and is one of the most effective self-care benefits we can give to ourselves. Releasing to Him the control and burden of managing our lives is a profound stress-relief technique.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” -Matthew 11:28
I pray that 2020 is a year of blessings, growth, hope and happiness for you, friend. This is the year you invest in yourself. It is a year of self-discovery and renewal of strength. When you set your ambitions and self-care as a priority, you are at your best to take better care of your family. May 2020 be your year! You’ve got this, mama.
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