January 5, 2009
Making your work/life balance resolutions for 2009 last
"Research shows that about 80 percent of people who make resolutions on Jan. 1 fall off the wagon by Valentine's Day, according to Marti Hope Gonzales, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Minnesota."
When I read this sentence in the New York Times article "New Year, New You? Nice Try," my heart sank a little.
With odds like that, how can those of us who've vowed to work less, sleep more, avoid the candy machine, leave the office a bit earlier to hit the gym, eat dinner as a family more than one night a week, scale back our email/Facebook/BlackBerry use, or start networking at real, live, face-to-face professional events ever hope to succeed in our new year's resolutions?
Fortunately, the article goes on to list several strategies that can help, none of which include entrusting our ability to change to willpower. (Apparently, we're always going to want that donut; we just have to want to fit into our clothes again more.)
According to the New York Times, these tactics include:
Nixing the baby steps. Grand, sweeping lifestyle modifications are where it's at. As the thinking goes, the bigger the change, the quicker you'll see the results. If you want to stop hacking every morning, you don't resolve to cut down on your smoking. You see your doctor, you get the patch, and you flush your last pack of cigarettes down the toilet.
Faking it till you make it. Maybe you're still the same stress bunny you were two weeks ago, back when it was 2008, but keep telling yourself you're a Zen master anyway. In time, the story you're feeding yourself will come to match the inner calm you feel.
Not worrying about "being ready" to change. You may never be fully ready. Besides, the best way to convince yourself that you're ready for a change is to see that the world won't slip off its axis by the mere act of you shutting down your computer and leaving work at a reasonable hour.
Since we're already five days into the new year and I am still (a) at the computer at 11 p.m., (b) sleeping less than eight hours a night, and (c) eating cookies like nobody's business, I can't attest to whether any of these strategies work.
But maybe some of you can: Tell us, how have you resolved to live a more balanced life in years past and what tricks did you employ to make your resolutions stick?
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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