The Good And Bad Of Resolutions

by Ramona Creel

Carrot Or Stick?

Take a look at this year's resolutions — do you see the word “stop” more than “start” and “don't” more than “do?” If the majority of your goals begin with a negative word, you may have a self-defeating trend going on here. Certainly, it's admirable to try and quit smoking or cut back on working late. But sometimes the way you state a resolution can impact your capacity to accomplish that goal. For example, if you want to improve your nutrition, telling yourself that you will “stop eating sweets” may not be the best way. It sounds punitive, like a punishment for being bad — and with this sort of absolute ultimatum you're likely to experience feelings of resentment. The last thing you want to do with a resolution is focus too heavily on the fact that something you enjoy is being taken away from you. But what if you were to replace the “bad” thing with something “good?” Promising yourself that you can “eat a big bowl of fresh fruit when a sugar craving comes on” sounds like a reward, and you'll be a lot more likely to follow through. Just that small shift can mean the difference between success and failure with your goals.

If you're accustomed to setting goals that browbeat you into behaving the “right” way (and you're also used to your efforts failing), why not try a different approach this year? Give up the stick and try a carrot instead — it works well for a wide variety of goals:

  • instead of “stop working late,” try “go home on time each day to spend some quality time with my family”
  • instead of “stop eating so much junk food,” try “eat a full serving of my favorite fruits or vegetables with every meal”
  • instead of “stop smoking,” try “give myself a gift (a walk in the sunshine, a hot bath, a good hot cup of coffee) when I get a nicotine craving”
  • instead of “stop biting my nails,” try “treat myself to a manicure and a polish when ever I feel the urge to gnaw”
  • instead of “stop leaving piles of paper on my desk,” try “set aside time at the end of each day to put everything away, so I can start the next morning with a clean desk and a clear mind”
  • instead of “stop being late for everything,” try “leave the house 15 minutes earlier than necessary so I can arrive at each appointment relaxed, and without rushing”
  • instead of “stop crashing in front of the TV all evening,” try “meet a friend for an hour of  walking and quality time each day after work”
  • instead of “stop being so negative,” try “start each day by thinking of one thing I'm grateful for”
  • instead of “stop criticizing my husband,” try “give my husband a compliment first thing each morning and as soon as he comes home each afternoon”

© Ramona Creel, all rights reserved. Ramona Creel is a modern Renaissance woman and guru of simplicity -- traveling the country as a full-time RVer, sharing her story of radically downsizing, and inspiring others to regain control of their own lives. As a Professional Organizer and Accountability Coach, Ramona will help you create the time and space to focus on your true priorities -- clearing away the clutter other obstacles and standing in the way of that life you've always wanted to be living. As a Professional Photographer, Ramona captures powerful images of places and people as she travels. And as a travel writer, social commentator, and blogger, she shares her experiences and insights about the world as we know it. You can see all these sides of Ramona -- read her articles, browse through her photographs, and even hire her to help get your life in order -- at And be sure to follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.