New Year’s resolutions are easy to make and hard to keep. Consider this: About 45 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, according to a University of Scranton survey — and only 8 percent say they are successful. The most frequent goals are not surprising, but they do say something important about our collective values. The top-10 resolutions include:
• Lose weight
• Get fit
• Get organized
• Take a trip; and
• Fall in love
I’m the strongest believer in self-care, but our resolutions can also change the world. What if we as women flip the script? Let’s take the traditional resolutions that focus on the personal (and often, the physical) and translate them into goals that go beyond self-improvement to create lasting change for ourselves, other women, and the world.
Here are five goals with that mission in mind:
1. Embrace Your Power
Society focuses on women needing to look perfect and often ignores our inner power. Instead of being our own harshest critics, let’s recognize and accept ourselves. Let’s resolve to take as thoughtful care of ourselves as we do of others — physically, emotionally, and mentally.
Only when we take good care for ourselves do we have the capacity to really help others — at home, at work, and in our community.
2. Find Your Focus
Notice what makes you feel uplifted. Tapping into what drives you is important for everyone, and it is particularly crucial for women. Research shows that women often don’t see themselves as qualified to be leaders, even though they are.
Be mindful about what moves you, what lifts you up, and what you are good at. Look inward through a clear, positive lens instead of a critical, judgmental one. Determining what you personally have to offer — a policy expertise, stellar communication skills, a vision for changing your community or country — is the first step in pinpointing your drive.
3. Lead by Example
Let’s make 2015 a banner year for women lifting up other women. Women’s leadership is important not only for women but for everyone: women bring a unique perspective to the table and change the conversation. It’s not enough to simply have women at the table; let’s ensure that they can be at the head of the table, too.
How do we do that? If you’re already an elected official or a member of a board, recruit more women to serve with you. If you are moving on from your post, recruit another woman to run for your seat. Nominate a woman to chair a committee. If you’re not in an elected public office, lobby someone who is and organize others to do the same.
Being a champion for others will buoy your own self-confidence and create real change for those around you. It’s a win-win for everyone.
4. Encourage Others
One of my personal resolutions is to encourage more women than ever to run for office in the 2016 election cycle.
The statistics are staggering and well-documented: Did you know that of 50 governors, 45 are men? People are shocked when they realize that 80 percent of Congress is men. And of course, 100 percent of the presidents ever elected in the U.S. have been men. This is the year to keep charging ahead toward change.
Women often need to be asked multiple times to run for office before they will seriously consider it. So I’m asking you: Will you recruit a friend, relative, or a co-worker to run for office? Your encouragement could plant the seed or be the final push she needs to throw her hat in the ring. Ask early, repeatedly, and authentically. Ask multiple women. Ask each of them multiple times.
Once those women decide to run, my nonpartisan foundation has the research tools they’ll need to win. Haven’t yet read Keys to Elected Office: The Essential Guide for Women? Download the app here and get the must-know advice at your fingertips.
5. Step Up — and use the “F” Word
Use the “F” word — feminist — often and unapologetically. One of the most exhilarating parts of 2014 for me was seeing feminism enjoy a much-deserved pop-culture moment. Women’s rights, sexism, and equality need to be in the spotlight this year and beyond. Let’s move it from a “moment” to the mainstream.
Read between the lines and call out sexism when you see and hear it. A study by the Women’s Media Center shows that even mild sexist language has a negative effect on perceptions about women leaders (and arguably, all women). Neutral, negative, and even positive descriptions of a woman candidate’s appearance all have detrimental impacts. The same is not true for men.
Likewise, let’s resolve to be outspoken about the ingrained rape culture all around us and challenge it at every turn. Two ways to begin are to push back against sexual objectification and reaffirm that rape “jokes” are never funny.
Stepping to the edge of our collective comfort zone –and pushing past it — will help us all grow.
The Bigger Picture
As we launch into 2015, I’m reminded of the powerful words of author Anais Nin: “I made no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning, and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me.”
That sentiment rings true for far too many women. This year, let’s resolve to give ourselves, and each other, more breaks. Let this be a year of embracing all we have to offer and all parts of ourselves. With this bigger picture in mind, we might just find our resolutions easier to keep.