5 1/2 Meta Resolutions for 2015

by Liz on December 30, 2014

Note:  This is an updated version of a post from a couple of years ago, but it seems as relevant as ever!  


It’s almost January and “resolutions” are the buzzword of the moment.

Everywhere you look you can find people talking about what New Year’s resolutions you should make. Or why they fail and how to keep yours.

Of course not everyone is a fan of New Year’s Resolutions, and you’ll see almost as many articles, blog posts and talk-show segments on why NOT to make New Year’s resolutions and instead spend some time setting your ‘intentions’ for the year or choosing a word for the year or some such.

However you slice it, there’s a lot of focus on making positive changes at this time of year and a lot of pressure to “get it right.”

But my very favorite New Year’s post of all time comes from the always fabulous Patti Digh. You can see it for yourself here, but the headline says it all:

You are not broken. You don’t need to be fixed.

I think that if we could all remember this as we approach the changing of the year, we’d all be a lot better off.

In this spirit, I offer my own suggestions for

5 1/2 Meta-Resolutions


When contemplating what kind of changes you’d like to make in your life (whether you call them resolutions, intentions or just new habits you’d like to cultivate), keep these principles in mind.

1. KISS (Keep It Simple Sweetie!)

One of the things that derails people faster than anything is trying to do too much too fast. We’ve all been there. You go to the gym, do one killer workout and then can’t move for three days. Or else you decide to wake up two hours earlier every morning so you can run, meditate and prep dinner before anyone else wakes up. This works for a few days or maybe a week and then… well let’s just say the lure of the warm bed is too much to resist.

This year, instead of a major overhaul of every aspect of your life start with one small thing. I mean one REALLY tiny thing. So rather than resolve that you’ll clean the kitchen every single night, start with something really small. Make a point of putting your morning coffee cup in the dishwasher. You might just be surprised how much of a difference committing to one small change can make. (This is a fantastic 20 minute video on making tiny changes).

2. Focus on progress, not perfection.

Often we set the bar so high, we can’t help but fail. I’d love to have something to post on this blog 4 or 5 times per week, but given my track record, I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen. So I’m going to focus instead on writing every day. I’m thinking that if I write something every day (and this ‘something’ could be as little as 1 sentence!), that at least some of this will make it to the blog. We’ll see.

Instead of vowing to keep your entire house ‘company ready’ all the time, focus on keeping the kitchen counter clear. Once you’ve got that habit firmly established, add in the goal of clearing the clutter off the coffee table each day.  In this way, you build on your successes instead of setting yourself up for discouragement and failure.

3. Be prepared to begin again. And again. And again.

According to the American Cancer Society, it can take 8-10 tries for someone to quit smoking. This is a particularly hard habit to change, but it’s been my experience that most of us have to try at least a few times to change any long-standing habit. So don’t be surprised if you forget to put your cup away or neglect the kitchen counters once or twice. It’s bound to happen. Don’t beat yourself up about it.

Just begin again. And again.  And again.

4. Notice how far you’ve come.

Sometimes we get so focused on where we want to be, we forget to look back and see how far we’ve come. We notice all the things we HAVEN’T done, instead of giving ourselves credit for what we have.

It may sound silly, but I love giving myself little stars or other marks on my calendar when I work out. Thinking about the possibility of an empty square is enough to get me out of bed when I might otherwise turn off my alarm and go back to sleep.  I also love the tiny celebration rituals in the video above!

5. Set up some support and accountability.

The bigger the change you’re going for, the more important this is. We all know that it’s much easier to break agreements with ourselves than agreements with others.

There are several online resources that can help.  I’m a huge fan of  tinyhabits,  and Lifehacker has a review of many other goal-tracker type things.  Of course there are plenty of fitness/nutrition trackers out there  and new  mobile apps coming out all the time.

These are great as far as they go, but I find that some kind of social connection is really critical.  For that it can be very helpful to enlist friends (either in real life, or online) to help you stay on track and celebrate your successes.

For a higher level of support and accountability, consider hiring a professional.

The reason for this is that even if you could learn to play the guitar on your own, most people find it much more effective to take lessons. Partly because a live teacher can help you in ways that reading a book or watching a video can’t. But also (and perhaps more importantly!), because having another person hear what you’ve been working on (or not!) is motivation to practice when you might otherwise might blow it off.

This is where teachers, consultants, trainers and yes… coaches can really be of service.

When considering whether to hire someone I know many people who think, “But I could do that [learn Spanish, lose 20 lbs, clean out my closets, train for a marathon] myself. I don’t need to take a class/consult a nutritionist/hire an organizer/ join a training program.”

To which I reply, “Yes. You could. But WOULD you? And if you haven’t yet done this thing you want to do, what’s different now that will make achieving this goal any more likely?”

Speaking for myself, I’ve done plenty of hard workouts in my day and I know plenty of exercises I could do to get a killer workout. But here’s the thing. Left to my own devices, I’ll do three pushups and call it a day. In a class, or with a trainer next to me, I’ll pump out way more than I ever thought I could. And THAT’S worth paying for. It’s worth it for the external results (getting stronger faster than I could on my own), but it’s even more worth it for the internal results- that feeling of having accomplished something I didn’t know I could do.

5 1/2. Be kind to yourself.

This is the half resolution, because it’s really the most meta- of all the meta-resolutions!  This underlies all of the other suggestions, and hopefully any impulse towards change will have this at it’s root.

If you make resolutions/intentions/goals/etc., make them with kindness towards yourself. If you don’t, choose this as an act of kindness as well.

Be kind to yourself in both the ends you choose and the means you use to achieve them.

When you make your New Years resolutions/plans/intentions/what-have-you (or decline to do so) with this in mind, I think you’ll be both happier and more likely to reach your goals/keep your resolutions/realize your intentions/etc….

Wishing you all the very best that 2015 has to offer!


P.S. If you’re curious about how a coach can help you make some changes in your life this year, I’d love to chat with you. I offer a free 30 minute consultation that will help you get clearer on what you want and how to get there. Shoot at email to liz [at] dreamgardencoaching [dot] com and we can schedule a time to talk!


Holiday Letters- Can I Get a Reality Check?

by Liz on December 18, 2014

Broken gingerbread cookies.


As I may have mentioned before, I have a love/hate relationship with the tradition of holiday cards and letters. On the one hand, I love seeing pictures of my friends and/or their kids, dogs, horses, etc… I like getting the yearly update from those who do that sort of thing. And on the other hand, it’s all too easy to slip into feelings of jealousy, inferiority and insignificance when I read about their overachieving kids, successful careers, glamorous vacations and so on.

Meanwhile, I’m staring at a pile of unfinished tasks that never seems to diminish, a kitchen sink that desperately needs re-grouting, a handful of frustrated ambitions, and a kid who is often wonderful, usually pretty average and occasionally a candidate for boarding school.

I can start to believe that everyone else is having a better life than me!

When these feelings start to brew and I’m tempted to eat a whole plate of cookies, I have to remember that this is the highlight reel of someone else’s life. These are the stories that have happy endings or make for good photo-ops.

And I get it. After all, part of what I do as a coach is help people tell the best (most empowering) stories about their own lives. I’m all for telling awesome stories about our experiences.

The problem (for me!) comes when I forget that these awesome stories and gorgeous photos aren’t the whole story. The cards and letters that make me feel the crappiest are usually those from people I only hear from at this time of year. These are the friends who are distant (whether because of geography, lifestyle, whatever), but who I still want to maintain some kind of connection with. So we touch base in this very limited way once a year.

I know nothing of their every-day lives, so the only data I have is the pintrest-perfect photo and the rundown of the high points of their year. So of course their lives look nothing but wonderful. I’m missing a huge piece of the picture!

The closer I am to the person behind the letter or the photo, the less prone I am to these feelings of jealousy or inferiority because the more likely I am to know more of their stories- the hard times, the boring times, the merely ordinary times.

It’s only when I’m not privy to the ordinary details of someone’s life that the highlight reel sparkles brightly enough to blind me to what I know must be true: no one’s life looks like this all the time. Of course everyone must have their share of hard times, boring times and merely ordinary times.

Remembering this little bit of reality helps me, and maybe it will help you if you are prone to similar reactions to the cards and letters that come this time of year or any time you’re exposed to an overdose of highlight reels without the balancing backstory.

At the end of the day, I don’t really believe that everyone is having a better life than me. And on balance, if I had to pick between their basket of joys and pains and my own, I’m pretty sure I’d pick up my own basket any time.

So if you’re feeling like your life just doesn’t measure up, I’d invite you to consider that you’re seeing only the tiniest sliver (and the shiniest sliver) of another person’s life.

If you want a fun exercise, try writing next year’s holiday letter with all the activities, accomplishments and adventures you want 2015 to contain.  Then figure out what you need to do to make this happen.

If you’d like help turning these plans into action, let me know.  It’s one of the things I do best!


Closing the Circle

November 21, 2014

Well, here we are- the end of my personal NaBloPoMo project.  And it’s a good thing I didn’t commit myself to any more than I did. This month has brought more than the usual November craziness and things have taken a big left-turn in my world in the last few days. So here I am. […]

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Kitty Therapy

November 19, 2014

  This week has taken a turn for the hard and while there may be plenty to write about at some point, right now, I’m indulging in a much-needed moment of kitty therapy.  

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On Falling Down and Getting Up Again (and again and again!)

November 18, 2014

Well, perhaps no one but me has noticed, but my NaBloPoMo ambitions have (once again!) proved to be bigger than my capacity to carry them out. This is the story of my life! And like any story (especially the story of one’s life), it deserves a little critical scrutiny to see if it is a […]

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Family Traditions…and Cheesecake!

November 12, 2014

This is a family heirloom. I know, it doesn’t look like much and it’s definitely not as sexy as a diamond broach or a silver tea set. But I love it and feel very grateful that when my Grannee died, I got to keep this cookbook.  It’s not even a proper cookbook (though she had […]

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When will I learn???

November 11, 2014

It is well documented that my brain is at it’s best in the morning. This is why I normally schedule writing time or anything that requires high-level thinking before noon.  And yet today, I rearranged my day for reasons that made sense at the time, and were in some ways more ‘efficient.’  It meant less […]

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Good Morning Wishes for Parents of Preschoolers…

November 10, 2014

  If I were a fairy godmother and could wave a magic wand over all the homes with toddlers and preschoolers, here’s what I’d wish for you: First of all, a good night’s sleep for all the parents! Some time in the morning (at least ten minutes, or maybe an hour) that’s just for you. […]

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Seven Strategies for All Good Mornings

November 7, 2014

    All Good Mornings is now available and I’m so thrilled with the feedback I’ve been getting.  Moms from Colorado to New York to Canada have been kind enough to let me know how much the book has helped them understand what’s really happening in the mornings, and how to make things easier for […]

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Today’s Lunch: Roasted Carrot Soup

November 5, 2014

      This was my lunch today.  Roasted Carrot Soup. It all started a week ago when we were expecting a freeze here and my husband, ever the attentive gardener, pulled all the carrots.  And there were a LOT of carrots! Last year we tried blanching and freezing which worked OK, but they got […]

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