Making resolutions and creating a 2012 Resolution Action Plan

According to the National Association of Professional Organizers, the phrase “get organized” is one of the top 10 resolutions people make every year. I’m not really sure how to validate this information, but my guess is that some version of “get organized” falls on the majority of resolution lists (“get the basement organized” or “have better time management”). If you add uncluttering into the “get organized” category, it’s likely a top 5 resolution.

If you fall into the group of resolution makers who wants to be better organized in 2012, the first thing to do is specifically identify why you want to be organized. Being organized isn’t usually a goal. Being organized is merely a path to achieving another goal. For instance, you might want to be better organized with your time after work so you finally get your business idea off the ground. You might want to be more organized with meal planning so you have less stress surrounding mealtimes with your family. Knowing why you want to be organized will help you with the remaining steps of the resolution-making process and with ultimately achieving your goals.

While brainstorming resolutions and the reasons you wish to make your resolutions, keep in mind that change is difficult and that research has found that it is easiest to achieve a goal when you’re only focusing on one at a time. This means you need to have 12 or fewer personal resolutions for 2012, giving yourself at least one month to focus on each resolution. If you have a resolution such as weight loss, and you want to be better organized with your meal planning to help you achieve that resolution, consider making your weight-loss resolution a six month or even an entire year-long resolution. You can focus on each step to help you achieve the weight loss each month — research and doctor’s visit in January, journaling food consumed and daily weight in February, meal planning in March, twice-a-week workouts with a personal trainer in April, four-times-a-week workouts on your own in May, etc.

After you have identified why you want to be more organized and have a rough idea of the resolutions you wish to achieve, your next step is to create a detailed plan of action. This Resolution Action Plan should include very specific language and planning. You need to identify exactly what you want to do in concrete terms and then the exact steps of how you plan to achieve these steps. Create milestones — small goals — for each resolution and rewards you will give to yourself when you reach each milestone.

Similar to last year, I will be taking on 12 monthly resolutions in 2012. Some of the resolutions are organizing and uncluttering related, but most are personal in nature, so I won’t be writing about them the way I did in 2011. I will check in with you over the course of the year, however, to see how you are doing with your resolutions and to provide tips for making and keeping your 2012 Resolution Action Plan. What resolutions do you have on your Plan for 2012? Good luck, and I wish you great resolution success in the coming year.

11 Comments for “Making resolutions and creating a 2012 Resolution Action Plan”

  1. posted by Shevonne on

    Great tips for someone who wants to follow through with his/her resolutions. Some of my resolutions are to ride a century, learn to deal with my grief, and get a certification.

  2. posted by Jodi on

    I LOVE it! An unclutterer post on how to organize your resolutions! I plan on merging this concept into my resolutions this year. Thanks Erin!

  3. posted by Paula on

    Too often, I think an objective of ‘tidiness’ or ‘organization’ is just Mom still whispering in our ear and let’s face it: if she didn’t manage to keep us tidy when we were actually living in her house under her rules, we’re hardly likely to listen to her now! In fact, we’ve trained ourselves to resist such wise counsel (because what do moms know?)

    So I like the perspective that organization is a means to an end and that we should focus on what that end is. Makes it a lot more likely that I’ll finally sort my tax papers!

  4. posted by Lizzie on

    My big resolution is to get my house ready to sell. (No plan to actually sell at the moment, but I want to be ready so that when a dream house comes on the market I can act.) Most parts of it could stand an hour or two of love but my basement? Yikes! It is the dumping ground that allows the rest of the house to look pretty good most of the time.

    I’m estimating that it will take 100 hours to totally clean the basement–to go through every box and sort and toss. But it will only take about five hours to make it tolerable. My January goal is to spend 20 hours working in the basement. Get a little dumpster in for a week. (I did that for a garage cleaning and it was fabulous.) Make a real dent in the awful basement situation!

  5. posted by ninakk on

    Erin, this was a nice post. I was wondering how you define resolution and goal?

    I read a post by Mary Jaksch where she emphasized the weight of a resolution and it seemed like a goal is less somehow, at least verbally. Personally, I tend to think of a resolution as a dead serious promise rather than a form of project management.

  6. posted by Joann on

    Great website!
    I say the best statement I can keep in front of me is the following: Less stuff, less stress!!!
    I plan on a radical reduction of items in all areas of the house!

  7. posted by Kate on

    I’m a big resolution maker, I think it goes along with the natural list-maker tendencies.

    But the last few years I’ve tried to get away from ones that are too punitive, especially around my weight, since those things (working out) are goals I work on often.

    Instead, I try to come up with concrete things that ADD something to my life, or to do something I’ve been wanting to do. So for example my two resolutions for 2012 are:

    1. Switch from my bank to a credit union (helps me with lesser monthly fees and helps community/world by sending message to bank) &

    2. Take ice skating lessons (adds fun & activity to my life, possible friend-meeting venue, supports a local business, and although it’s good exercise, it’s not phrased negatively).

  8. posted by Rick on

    Spot on with your comment of breaking your diet resolution down to manageable bites (bad pun intended).

    Resolutions can be too large and scary when you see them as huge, life changing events. Breaking them into month-long pieces makes them less intimidating.

    Try no junk food in January, switch to diet soda in February, etc.

    Great post!

  9. posted by Jackie on

    Great article! I am loving the Resolution Action Plan and the idea of monthly resolutions! I’m working on my resolutions but I want to read/learn more, spend more time on my passions, try to travel, experience new things, and not dwell over small drama (guess that’s a lot more resolutions than I thought lol)….I will definitely be keeping in mind your tips and the tips I found in another great article >

  10. posted by Whitney on

    I enjoyed reading about the monthly resolutions last year, and so I didn’t make a yearly resolution for 2012. Instead I just made a January resolution with my husband – we’re going to exercise each day this month, keep records, and then at the end of the month evaluate what worked and what didn’t work for us. We had lots of travel time to talk these past few weeks and so we were able to make concrete plans that will reduce the inertia and initial hurdle of “exercising”. So far so good, three days down (plus the 31st because we were feeling ambitious!) My only other resolutions are resolving to remind myself how much I enjoy having meals planned / a clean house / an organized calendar. Doing something because the result gives me pleasure is a new idea for me, and a good spur so far…I’m hoping that I enjoy the results of the exercise so much that it can also go on this list.

  11. posted by Michele on

    Years ago I stopped making many resolution & breaking them. Instead I’d make one & work all year to keep it. I really like the idea of one per month. They say it takes 28 days to form a habit. This way I will, hopefully, make 12 good habits per year.

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