We all recognize the month of January as the traditional starting point of all things new: setting personal and work goals, readjusting finances and budgets, and considering a healthier lifestyle. It’s the time many people give up vices, such as alcohol if there were too many libations over the holidays. Other projects that have been put off the previous year are added back to this year’s list. Interestingly, looking for a new job has become a goal high on many New Year’s resolution lists.
Considering that today is the first of February, you’re probably wondering why I am writing a post on new year’s resolutions and goals.
This is because it took the whole month of January 2021 to finally learn the best way, aligned with my personality traits, for actually having success with my new year’s goals.
Honestly, January is a hard month for me to start new things. Maybe I want to rebel against the status quo or face it — it could just be procrastination. I often joke that the Chinese New Year is the best time to make resolutions. It’s an excuse for having January to recoup from the holidays, and — depending on the date of the Chinese New Year — I can legitimately have up to six weeks to figure out how I should begin my year!
Sometimes I relate this to being a 9 on the Enneagram. Nines are Peacekeepers, and we want to avoid conflict. It also means that we crave stability, peace of mind, and opportunities to use our creativity. Enneagram 9s want to “create familiar rhythms and routines in their lives and draw comfort from this pattern of engagement with their tasks and environment.” (Integrative 9)
Nines are easily distracted, which may come from the vast number of choices on the internet declaring what we need to get the new year started properly. As a result — squirrel! — we find ourselves spending too much time researching how to do things, or simply become involved in one project, then another, before realizing that we should have started by making a plan first. We see what our friends are doing, and because we want to go along to get along, we don’t stop to see what is right for us. I often become distracted with a flurry of different activities, which is only procrastination for my real priorities.
With all the January resolution noise, I needed to go about new year’s resolutions differently. I slowed down and became more thoughtful, not allowing myself to get caught up in the flood of ideas that overwhelm me and only encourage procrastination. Instead, I realized that I had to try something new that would help me achieve better success, not just in the first couple months of the year, but for the entire year.
While there are many useful lists and reminders out there, I found that the best plan to stay productive is to choose just ONE category of goals at a time. Dividing a huge list of tasks and projects into bite-size, manageable tasks by subject area keeps me from veering into distractions, leaving behind a trail of uncompleted work that may never be finished.
For instance, I want to accomplish several things regarding my Writing, Health, Home Organization, Homeschooling, Reading and Technology. Instead of combining all the tasks I want and need to do from these areas together in one list, I begin with ONE category. In that category, I list, then prioritize. I don’t work on anything from any other category until I feel that I have made the best headway possible in the first area. Since there are certain tasks with time constraints, so I mark those, knowing that I can come back later.
This works for me because 1) the to-do list for one category isn’t too long and intimidating, and 2) accomplishing what is possible in the first category sets a positive tone and motivates me as I start work on the next category.
I chose READING as the first category to complete because it was a fun and it had only two tasks to complete, giving me that first, motivating success.
For the reading category, I only had two major tasks. One was to make a list of books from my TBR (to be read) shelves to read at some point through the year. As I finish each book, I will mark it off and add it to my Goodreads Reading Challenge. The second task was going through my shelves and purging those books past my need for purchasing the book or on my shelves so long it was doubtful I would ever read them. Once this was complete, I boxed the books to later donate or exchange at one of the Half-Price Booksellers in our area of Texas.
With a quick success under my belt from the Reading category, my second one was ORGANIZATION. Making strides with organization unclutters my home, making it peaceful and comforting (remember, a necessity for Enneagram 9s) and helps order my mind. An uncluttered mind keeps me from becoming distracted and procrastinating on other tasks.
In tomorrow’s post, I’ll share the 4 Important Home Organizational Projects to Start Any New Year. Or the Chinese New Year — your choice!
Suppose you are someone who struggles to be productive with new year’s resolutions. Do you think that working on tasks in categories rather than a general to-do list would be more helpful? Post below how you find success with your new year’s resolutions.
If you are an Enneagram 9, how does this post resonate with you? Post below how you, as a nine, tackle the new year.