Welcome to the second post for the monthly column “Just Leap.” Written by our guest author Amy Christensen from Expand Outdoors, each post focuses on stepping out of your comfort zone and pushing your boundaries. Please feel free to share your stories with us below or leave comments for Amy. Above all, go out, be fearless and Just Leap!

The end of the year is filled with the collective energy for change. It’s a time of amplified expectation—the holidays, family relations, goals and resolutions for the coming year.

And to be honest, our expectations can often fall short. Not because we’ve done anything wrong, but because we want to do SO MUCH. We imagine all the things we haven’t yet done, the things we want to do, the person we want to be, and we cram all these things into a few weeks out of the year that are already filled up with parties, obligations, traditions and changes in our normal routines.

It’s no wonder we’re exhausted and frazzled by the time we get back to our “normal” selves the week after New Year’s.

And then we take a look at our list of goals and resolutions for 2013 and wonder, “How in the world am I going to make all this happen?”

I love resolutions at this time of year. I adore setting new goals and I get super-energized when I create an intention for how I want to live the next 12 months. (I’m a total geek about this stuff, actually.)

But after the first few days of stoke, I start to feel a little overwhelmed. Then I’ll get discouraged because it’s taking too long, darn it! (And this is on January 5th!).

This year, as the topic of resolutions & goal-setting nears, I am tempted to ignore the energy and boycott making any kinds of New Year’s resolutions.

But I had a better idea. One that feels doable, exciting and puts a new spin on the years goals.

The Magic Ratio

There has been a lot of research over the past ten years around interpersonal interactions, our life experiences and the effects positive and negative comments can have on our lives, moods and motivation.

Scientists seem to agree that the ratio of five positives to one negative can help us in a variety of areas on our lives, from intimate relationships to workplace interactions. And I’m betting that it helps in goal-setting, learning new skills (ahem surfing), and creating change.

It’s about focusing on the positive things that are going on and not lingering or belaboring the negative. (How many times have we obsessed over a mistake, or a missed workout?)

The one in the 5:1 is important, too, as it helps us stay grounded and avoid the “pollyanna” effect, which reportedly happens at around a 9:1 ratio, but I think it’s safe to say that we’re all pretty good about getting in that self-criticism.

What we often miss is paying attention to what we’re doing well. What’s working in our lives, and the choices we make on a daily basis that allow us to do what we love. We tend to take these things for granted and dismiss them as a given.

So with this in mind, I started thinking about goals for 2013, keeping in mind what I’ve accomplished in 2012, and what’s working that I want to continue.

Why not celebrate what’s working with a “continuance goal”? (That’s totally a professional term, by the way.)

New Year Celebrations

So here’s my proposal: For every new goal or resolution you set for 2013, recognize three to five things you’re already doing today that you want to continue—and make those official goals, too.

These are things that you’re already doing. Things that you’re proud of, that you love, and that you’re good at. Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean it doesn’t count! These things can be anything like complimenting your kids every day (I bet you already do this!), maintaining your current workout routine, or calling up your best friend every week.

Whatever they are, they matter. They make a difference. And I believe that when we pay attention and recognize all the really amazing things we do every day, we have more energy, more compassion and more patience for ourselves when we slip up. When things take more time to change or when things get hard.

I know that when I recognize the positive things I’m doing, and compliment others on their accomplishments, I feel so much better, I have more energy and in general, feel good.

So maybe this year, instead of focusing on all the things we want to change, perhaps it’s a good time to focus on our strengths. And from there, we’ll have more energy to make the small, deliberate shifts over the next 12 months toward new changes.


Amy Christensen is owner and life coach at Expand Outdoors. To keep you motivated through the holidays, sign up for ONE Step at a Time, a new (completely free) 30-day email series designed to offer daily motivations and inspirations straight to your inbox. You can also subscribe here for the Expand Outdoors newsletter, including updates, blog articles, news and upcoming special offers.