New Year, New Tricks by Dad Dog Zack Manko
Say hello to 2021 like you mean it! January is notorious for being the month where everyone makes a resolution, only to break it a month (or two months, or two weeks) later. Caught up in the emotional high of new beginnings, as well as riding out the tail end of holiday parties and celebrations, people make starry-eyed plans they have no intention of keeping.
Sorsha says enough is enough.
Let’s make this the year we stick to our guns. The year we dig in (Sorsha can show you, she’s a pro at digging holes) and keep our commitments. Whether your New Year’s Resolution is about exercise, finances, dieting, or career goals, there are certain things you can do to help stick to it. Don’t worry—your dog can help you.
How? Just read on.
It’s All About Accountability
One tactic to help you stay committed is to establish accountability. Many times, this involves developing self-accountability, or the capability to set goals, determine priorities, and meet objectives on your own. Some people are natural list-makers or self-motivators, but many others require a little boost.
This is where an accountability partner comes in. These are individuals (or one person) that you trust and can meet with regularly, with the goal of mutual accountability and success. By sharing your weekly or monthly objectives, you are both more likely to accomplish them. Similarly, regular meetings with your partner allows the two of you to share stories of overcoming procrastination and resistance.
However, not everyone has access to such a reliable and mutually-minded partner (especially in a pandemic). Fortunately, there’s probably one in your home right now—possibly on the floor or couch next to your right now. That’s right, it’s time to enlist fido as your accountability partner!
Many of the benefits of an accountability partner can be enjoyed even if your partner can’t talk back! For instance, just talking about your goals out loud helps to make them more real and stick in your head. Similarly, scheduling a regular time to go over and organize your goals (even if this is just showing your notebook and planner to your dog) forces you to take time to assess yourself and evaluate your progress.
If your goal is to eat healthier, put your dog on a better diet when you start yours. This way, if you are tempted to break your diet, you’ll be letting them down as well, not just yourself. Likewise, if your plan is to exercise more, schedule workouts with your dog a few times a week. You will be more likely to stick to your routine, as your pup will be looking forward to those exercise sessions.
Set Better Goals
While having a goal is a good first step, people too often fail to meet their objectives because of a few common errors in goal setting. One of these is being too unclear or amorphous. Saying “I need to get in shape” may get you off the couch, but you’ll be undirected and unmotivated in no time.
If your goal is fitness, set a designated amount of weight you intend to lose. If it is finances, set a target amount of money you want to save (three month’s salary isn’t a bad place to start). Make it measurable so that you know exactly what you are shooting for.
In addition to being clearer, you will also want to make your goals time bound. This means setting a deadline for each objective. Having an overarching timeframe for your goal will help you set smaller steps and milestones, giving your New Year’s Resolution an overall structure, and each objective a sense of urgency.
By polishing up your goals with these few adjustments, you’re setting yourself up for a successful year…
Remember Your Why
One reason that New Year’s Resolutions come and go is that people forget whythey made them in the first place. Sure, we all know we should eat better or move more, but is it reallynecessary?
To avoid these hang ups, start by picking a resolution that matters. A compelling motivation should be attached to your resolution.
Just like setting clear goals, you should also have clear motivations. Be specific. Thinking “I should lose weight to be healthier” is OK, but not nearly as good as “I need to lose fifteen pounds in six months so that I can keep up with my children this summer.”
Again, you can incorporate your pet into this planning. Think about how much happier and healthier your dog would be if you were healthier yourself. Let a better life for both of you be your motivation.
Having a better, more productive year is about more than setting resolutions or spending time with your furry companions. It is about choosing to have a good attitude and practicing gratitude. Unfortunately—and just like exercise—if we don’t do this regularly, it can slip away from us.
In addition to resolution making and breaking, there’s another common theme to January each year (at least in recent years). There is too often a tendency to decry and denounce the previous year, as if it were a thing or person that was actively out to get us. People treat the year as if it had an agenda to ruin our lives.
Unsurprisingly, these feelings are amplified this year. With all the hardships and challenges of 2020, people are grumbling and condemning it everywhere.
While venting frustrations and pent-up emotions can be cathartic, it can also be dangerous. If we do it too often, we run the risk of letting negativity take over, of ruining our attitude and our state of mind.
So, even in a year like 2020, learn to look for the good and positive. Be grateful that you are still here to celebrate the new year. Be grateful for all the pets that found homes through national efforts like Clear the Shelters. Be grateful for stories of love and hope. Be grateful that you have the chance to make 2021 as good, as joyful as you want.
Because, ultimately, you do have that power. Choose to find the good and hold onto hope like a bulldog on a bone.
That is what your dog would do.