Do you hate New Year’s Resolutions? Maybe they seem way too restrictive or arbitrary for you.
Have you struggled with your New Year’s Resolutions in 2019? Maybe you want to start over now.
Or are you looking for a new way to set goals?
I have your answer: you need a 19 for 2019 list, or an annual list, and it is not too late to write one.
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What is a 19 for 2019 list?
I first learned about making annual lists from Gretchen Rubin’s podcast Happier. If you’re not already listening to Happier, I highly recommend it. Gretchen had a listener explain how she made a list of 35 things she wanted to do for her 35th birthday. So Gretchen turned this listener suggestion into an idea we can all follow: she developed the idea to create an 18 for 2018 list.
The main goal of this list is for you to be happier! It will be made up with items that will increase your happiness in the current year. Unlike a traditional New Year’s Resolution which tend to be big and unachievable, this list supports the belief that small accomplishments also contribute greatly to happiness.
Stretch list vs realistic list
There are many different ways to use an annual list like the 19 for 2019. The list could be focused on work goals, personal life, relationship goals, or home improvement. Since the possibilities are endless, you first want to consider what your main outcomes are.
Are you a person who prefers to check everything off as done? Do you value finishing?
Or do you prefer to aim high and know you’ve made some progress towards a ambitious goal? You’re okay with starting because it gets you more motivated to make changes that something realistic?
Stretch lists prioritize the ambitious thinking while realistic lists prioritize what is achievable and attainable.
I prefer realistic lists for my annual lists and you see that in my 19 for 2019. I feel like the volume of items is already so ambitious, I want items that I can cross off balanced with a few that help me make significant progress towards big goals.
Here’s a practical example: while I want to lose 10 pounds this year, I chose to put walk 30 minutes for 5 days for ONE week on my 19 for 2019 list. Exercising daily for 30 minutes is the recommended minimum for good health and I have some other health issues that prevent me from working out more rigorously at this point. I believe if I set a habit for one week, I will be on my way to adapting a life-long habit. Furthermore, increasing my exercise will help achieve that weight loss goal.
While I’m on Team Realistic 100% percent, I also want to include some stretch goals for my year because there is so much value in dreaming big. However, I cap those at 1-3 goals and make them specific enough that I think I can stretch to achieve them.
Get serious about having fun
Gretchen Rubin also advocates scheduling time for fun. Gretchen and I are both classic Upholders which means we have no problem keeping our commitments to ourselves and others. One obstacle Upholders can have, though, it being so task oriented that we forget about having fun.
I believe that many parents are unsuccessful with their New Year’s Resolutions is they seem like even more work. Today’s parents are already overstretched and overwhelmed. That’s why a 19 for 2019 list works well – it encourages us to prioritize fun.
You probably wouldn’t say your New Year’s Resolution is watch the entire Gilmore Girls series on Netflix. But it’s pretty reasonable, and in fact, encouraged to add that to a 19 for 2019 list. We all need time to unwind and have fun.
Is it easy for you to blow off your to do list and binge watch Netflix without guilt? Since that’s a struggle for me, adding it to the list makes it an intentional way to rest and it’s easier for me to schedule it. When it’s on my list, this is something I planned to do to give myself a break and recharge. I find I also take fewer fake breaks like mindlessly surfing Facebook when I schedule in intentional breaks.
Make your 19 for 2019 list
Print off my 19 for 2019 list template and get to filling it in. Feel free to brainstorm on the list because you can always print another copy!
As you write your list, consider both your types of items and the different areas in your life:
Types of items include nagging tasks, projects, and habits
Nagging tasks: What tasks have you been procrastination on? Is there something you could accomplish in under an hour?
I always include a few nagging tasks that I’ve procrastinated on. In 2018, it was figuring out what was wrong with my Fitbit’s strap.
In 2019, it was taking time to order a Shutterfly book I had made during 2018. I get big satisfaction from crossing something off by January 2. This also helps me with momentum to keep going past February 1.
Projects: Is there a medium-sized home improvement project you want to tackle like repainting a room? Is there an area of your home that needs organization or decluttering? Do you want to get scrapbooks started for you children?
This year I want to declutter the garage and create our annual photobook. Seeing them on the list will make me continually consider how I want prioritize and plan for those projects.
Habits: What bad habits are frustrating you? What would you like more of in your life?
I like to include a few habits but I’ve learned that I need create a time frame for them so I can measure my success. Here’s the thing with habits: we want to do them every day for the rest of our lives but that gets hard to measure.
When do you get to cross it off the list? When do you get to say it’s complete? If you miss one day in the year, can you still give yourself credit?That’s why suggest you add a time frame like two weeks or a month.
In 2019 I created a habit to express Words of Affirmation every day with my husband for 14 days. While I wanted to carry this habit over for the whole year, I know to get the satisfaction of success. Remember, I’m on Team Realistic and I like to cross things off. So I give it a time frame to measure my success and then still strive to continue to the habit.
As I mentioned above, you also want to consider which areas of your life yo want to focus on:
Areas of your life
Family & Friends: Do you want more date nights? Happy hours with girl friends? Do you want to actually play with your kids?
Those go on the list too .I want to connect with our extended family through sending actual mailed birthday and anniversary cards. I also want to teach both my children certain skills: teach my daughter to print her capital letters so writing is easier and I want my son to start school so separating from me is a little easier with practice.
Financial & Work: Do you want to save enough to renovate a bathroom? Are you hoping to make connections with your colleagues? Or to hone some speaking skills? Maybe you’d like to start researching a Side Hustle.
I left work off my 2019 list because I hadn’t committed to start this website in 2019!
Fitness & Health: Do you need to go to the dentist? Get your blood pressure checked? Find a new doctor?
My rheumatologist wanted me to test gluten, dairy and eggs to see how they affected my automimmme illness so I added that to the list. This was a huge challenge for me and I likely wouldn’t have done it if I hadn’t put it on my list.
Fun & Hobbies: Do you have books you want to read or shows you want to watch? Are there some trips you’d like to take or events you’d like to attend?
I put the achievable item: Go to a restaurant and read a magazine cover to cover because that sounds like fun to me. Choose what is fun for you.
Faith: If you’re a person of faith or spirituality, you might want to consider this. Do you want to pray more or do a Bible study? Do you need time in nature to ground yourself?
I left this off this year but my husband, Kyle, wants to teach Molly to recite a prayer this year.
Choosing a mix of the types of tasks and the areas of your life makes your list something you can stick with.
20 tasks before 2020
But wait, it’s already a few months into 2019! If you’re reluctant to start this because you feel like you missed the boat on the beginning of the year, I have solution for you!
Instead create 20 tasks before 2020. This way you can think of 20 things you’d like to accomplish before 2020. Again, my advice is make them realistic and include fun!
Your best year yet
This can be your best year yet. It is never too late to design your year to increase your happiness, health and well-being.
Break it down into your tasks, projects, and habits. Consider including items for your family and friends, finances and work, fitness and health, fun and hobbies, and faith. Print out the 19 for 2019 list or the 20 for 2020 list and get to work.