With Christmas behind us it’s time to look toward New Year ahead, which is practically synonymous with the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions. Everybody makes them. Everybody breaks them. We’re all too familiar with how it feels to approach a year valiantly with a lofty resolution that feels all-important – even all-consuming – only to have it burst into flames. Whether the failure was a result of poor planning, lack of will power or external forces, it sucks to start the year feeling defeated especially when your intentions were quite the opposite.
That’s why it’s really important to do two specific things: 1. Make a concrete plan (that builds in mini-successes along the way). 2. Be accountable (by setting up automatic reminders in your digital calendar or writing them into your printed calendar, then tracking your progress). Life coaches, psychologists, great mentors, religious luminaries, lauded philosophers, happiness researchers and wise mothers the world over all seem to agree on those two necessary steps to getting it done. It just so happens that whether you’re resolute in your determination to start that non-profit agency to benefit homeless families in your area or finally lose twenty pounds you’ve been carrying around for too long, a photo book is the perfect way to plan for success, keep yourself accountable, and have tangible proof of your accomplishment when you’re finished. Simply choose any Mixbook photo book template, then choose the layouts that will accommodate pictures and text to track your progress toward your goal or goals in the coming year.
One-Track Mind I’ll start with the most common scenario. You have your mind and heart set on accomplishing a single specific goal. It could be something as lofty as starting your non-profit or something as cliché as losing weight and getting in shape. Either way, a goal’s a goal and you need to make an explicit plan either way. Start by sitting down with your calendar or simply make a list of months and weeks, then write down a specific task that will help you to work toward your goal, which, by the way, should fall on a specific day. Then work backwards, asking yourself what it will take to get from point A to point B by date X. By breaking your project down into bite sized pieces, you avoid becoming overwhelmed. The smaller the piece, the more manageable; you can even write down what would make a single day a success. Then plan for some short-term goals, which could be little things like researching how to write a business plan, learning how to cook with kale or running a 5K. Do your best to manage the heady excitement of taking on a personal goal by self-imposing reasonable expectations along the way that will assist rather than sabotage your intention. I wrote about a project just like this that I did for myself about 2 years ago. To this day I am so proud that I accomplished my goal – and I’m still benefiting from a well-tracked success. Here’s my resolution photo book, which can be easily adapted to outline any singular goal.
Determination by the Dozen If you have multiple resolutions you’ll also need to articulate what comprises success – even if it’s just for yourself. While singular goals tend to be measurable, a series of goals can sometimes be a little more vague in nature – things like: take more time to stop and smell the roses; call my grandmother more often; be nicer to random strangers, etc. Since there’s no clear date by which you aim to achieve these, they can be floaty intentions that are both easily forgotten when life gets busy and hard to really assess success in retrospect even if you have a hunch you did a decent job. For a series of resolutions like this, create a photo book with little mini chapters for each resolution. Simply upload an image or text or both each time you feel that you made good on a goal. By the end of your year, you’ll be amazed to see how quickly your small actions add up to a whole lot of resolve. And you’ll be proud to have a printed volume as proof.
Happiness Tracking A third way of approaching your New Year’s Resolutions is by borrowing a trick from the wise Elizabeth Gilbert, who kept a daily happiness journal where she simply wrote down one or two sentences about the moment that had made her most happy that day. Gilbert so eloquently captures the path to happiness in this quote: “People tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will descend like fine weather if you're fortunate. But happiness is the result of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly.” Make your own happiness journal by entering your quotes into a photo book each day, illustrating them with pictures, photos, artwork or design elements. Or borrow from the brilliant Gretchen Rubin who spent a year addressing segments of her happiness month by month in her book called The Happiness Project. Create your own Happiness Project by reading her book, then taking on your own custom-created challenges each month for one year. Track your progress in twelve mini chapters in a Mixbook photo book.
However you approach your resolutions this next year, make sure you track your successes as they’re happening so you look back and really appreciate how far you came. I can’t think of a better way to hold onto your pride for the ages than creating a book that’s all about how you got to where you were meant to go.