Small Commitments to Action

I made a resolution many years ago to stop making New Year’s resolutions. It is one of the few resolutions that I have ever been able to keep.

While I don’t like the idea of resolutions, I do like the idea of finding time to reflect on my life and think about the direction that I want to go in. I recently came up with an idea for framing these kind of reflections, so I thought I would share it here.

As I have mentioned before, I am currently actively working on recovering from my addiction to food, and that has helped me to recognize other addictive behaviours that I have. One of them is being a workaholic. This means that when I sit down to reflect on my life, I have a tendency to just think about my work and what I need to improve in that domain, and I tend to forget to reflect on all of the other aspects of my life.

I recently listened to a podcast that talked about the things that workaholics tend to neglect: recreation, relationships, rest, and self care. (Unfortunately, I can’t share the podcast episode because it was a test episode for someone who is launching a podcast. If she decides to make it public, I will add the link here later.) When I heard those words, I realized that I needed to redo my year-end reflection using those words as a framework. Here is what I did.


1. I wrote a definition of each of these words or gave an example of what it meant to me.

For example, what does “rest” mean to you? To me, it means going to bed on time, waking up at the same time every day, stopping to eat at mealtimes rather than eating while doing something else, and not working outside of my work hours.

I went through all five words (recreation, relationships, rest, self-care, and work) and gave myself examples of what this looks like for me, or what I hope it should look like if it is not yet quite where I want to to be.

2. I then did some exercises to get me to see things that I can’t normally see by asking myself some questions.

  • Which of these five areas of my life comes easiest to me? Put them in order of easiest to hardest.
  • Which of these five areas takes the most energy? Put them in order of what takes the most energry to what takes the least.
  • Which of these five areas do I tend to neglect or ignore?
  • Which of these five areas do I need the most improvement in?
  • Which of these five areas excites me?
  • Which of these five areas scares me?
  • Which of these five areas do I least want to work on?
  • Which of these five areas am I especially good at?
  • Which of these five areas have I gotten better at over the last year?

3. If I thought I needed to do work on any of these areas, I made a SPECIFIC statement about what ONE small action I would commit to taking this year to work towards improvement.

For example, if I need to work on my relationships, I could choose a specific person (or set of people) and commit to contacting them once a week. If I need to work on rest, I could commit to putting my phone out of reach when I have my meals. If I need to work on recreation, I could commit to checking the local newsletter to see what kinds of clubs and activities are available in this area.


I like the idea of making small commitments to action rather than large, wide-ranging, and ill-defined resolutions (e.g. “lose weight”, “be happier”, “make more money”). I think that taking small, concrete actions over a longer amount of time is more likely to get me moving in the right direction.


Today’s Note

This is a pretty simple idea, but oh, I struggled with not going down several paths to make it more complicated! I was thinking that I would make a worksheet for this process and make it available to be downloaded. Then I thought about how to format the worksheet, what kinds of fonts I should use, whether to make it into a chart or a graphic, where I would store it, which email address should I use for the account of the service where I would store it, etc., etc., etc. This is why I didn’t post yesterday: because I made the thing more complicated than it needed to be, to the point where I had created a full-time job for myself out of one twelve-minute writing session. And because I was obsessing about ten things on the periphery of the article, I never actually wrote the article!

Keep it simple, Shaney!!!