I haven’t always been a huge supporter of New Year’s resolutions. I’ve seen people set goals for the upcoming year in assorted ways, but more often than not, the goals eventually fall by the wayside. It has become clear to me that if you are going to make New Year’s resolutions, then you need to have a plan. Without a plan, your resolutions are left floating aimlessly with no clear direction, no course of action, and ultimately no success.
It takes some level of organization to make and fulfill New Year’s resolutions. So in the spirit of this blog, I’m going to make my very first New Year’s resolution ever as a way to help those of you who have tried and failed over and over to find real success in 2009.
My 2009 New Year’s Resolution: Meal Planning
Since starting this blog back in the beginning of October, I’ve noticed that one major (and very common) organizational tool I do not currently use is meal planning. I’ve read many times over that meal planning is a great way to save time and money, and in general an effective way to organize your life better. I even had a reader leave a useful comment about meal planning on my post about stocking your pantry.
So why haven’t I ever actively planned meals? Probably because my mom didn’t do it so I never did either. But I’ve seen the real potential of meal planning recently and I don’t want to wait any longer!
Now other than making the decision that I would like to plan meals in 2009, I haven’t done much else in the way of deciding how I’m going to make that happen. As I said above, having a strategy is really the key to success. So below I’m going to outline a step-by-step process that you can watch me use to realize my New Year’s resolution of meal planning. Then hopefully you can apply what you’ve learned to your own resolutions for the upcoming year.
Step 1: Get Specific
Before outlining any kind of plan, it is important to make your resolution and then describe it specifically so you understand what it really means to you. For example, if you would like to lose weight in 2009, how much do you want to lose? If you would like to organize your life, what is it exactly that needs to be organized? Be specific. The worst way to start pursuing your New Year’s resolution is to be vague.
- Meal Planning: I want to schedule all dinners in advance that I will cook in order to (1) cut back on stress that accompanies last-minute meal decisions, (2) be more creative with meals and learn new recipes, (3) shop more efficiently and, and (4) use my time more wisely.
Step 2: Be Realistic
When coming up with New Year’s resolutions, it’s really important to be realistic and honest with yourself so you don’t end up setting yourself up for failure before you’ve even begun. If you want to lose 50 pounds in 2009, you need to ask yourself if you can—do you have time, will power, motivation, tools, and physical ability? After answering these difficult but important questions, go back to step 1 and make any necessary changes. Perhaps it is more realistic for you to lose 20 pounds instead of 50, for example.
- Meal Planning: First, I worry about my ability to stick to this new kind of lifestyle. It will be a major change, so I will need to discipline myself to keep with it. I feel that I am up to the challenge. Second, I know that I could theoretically plan every meal, but I am choosing to only plan dinners for now. Starting more simply can help me ease into it more effectively. Finally, I know that in order for me to actually plan meals, I need to have a strategy in place. No problem—that’s Step 3.
Step 3: Outline a Strategy
If your New Year’s Resolution is to lose weight (keeping with this same example), you won’t get very far if you do not have a plan. Simply stating that you wish to lose 20 pounds will not suffice—you need to decide when, where, and how you will accomplish this goal. For example, you could choose to run on your treadmill Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 7 a.m. for 30 minutes, only eat dessert on the weekends, and reduce the size of your dinner plates to cut down your portion size. The point is, when it comes to general resolutions like ‘losing weight’, a specific strategy is a must.
- Meal Planning: This is the step I have not yet tackled. But as I stated at the end of Step 2, if I do not outline a strategy, I can guarantee myself failure. So, here’s what I just came up with in last few minutes: I think it would be best to pick a day of the week when I can plan each night’s meal for that week. Then when I get better at it, I can move to meal planning monthly. We have meetings on Monday and Tuesday nights, so Wednesday is probably the best day for me to start with. We are a leftovers family, so I do not need to plan a new meal for each night. For now I think that 3 meals a week will be plenty. I will shoot for one brand new recipe, one old recipe, and one made-up recipe (I like to experiment in cooking). I will use my planner to keep track of each meal. That should be all I need to get started!
Step 4: Ready, Set, Go
This step is pretty easy—it’s time to put your resolution into action! If it’s weight loss, then start your weight loss plan on January 1 and stick to it. Keep track of your progress through record keeping and take notice of your improvement.
- Meal Planning: I will begin on Wednesday January 7, since this upcoming Wednesday is December 31 (and that will also give me enough time to get settled back into our ‘normal’ schedule after all the holiday traveling). I may end up keeping track of my progress right here at Lifestyles of the Organized as a further way to help me stay motivated to stick to this new system.
Step 5: Assess Your Strategy
With any resolution, it’s important to check back in regularly to make sure everything is still going well. Assessing your progress overall after about a month is good for starters. Then make any necessary adjustments to your plan based on how successful you’ve been. For example, if you are trying to lose weight, but your new exercise program is not fitting very well into your schedule, then tweak what you need to in order to make it work.
- Meal Planning: I will assess my progress at the beginning of February and then decide if I should move to monthly planning instead of weekly planning. I will also make any changes to my meal categories if necessary.
Are you going to make any New Year’s resolutions this year?