My Do’s and Don’t’s for Setting (and Actually Achieving) New Year’s Resolutions

Healthy Goal Setting –> The HTP Book


Every year, I make a big to-do about my New Year’s Resolutions (NYR).  I have always loved the fresh start that a new year signifies – it’s a chance to start over, to refocus, to redefine.  I’m pretty good about actually achieving my goals. 


This year – for the first time in a long time – I’m not setting a NYR.  Well, I technically am, but my resolution is to stop setting goals.  It’s kind of an oxymoron, I know.  Let me explain.   As I wrote in my recent Run Happy post, I have begun to understand that, at this point in my life, it’s not about doing more things more efficiently… it may be about doing less so I can focus on what actually matters.  And – you know – be truly happy.

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Last year, I wrote about my messy little secret.  For as organized as the rest of my life is (or I try to make it), my silverware drawer is a disaster.  When I unload the dishwasher, I just toss the silverware into the slots randomly.   My friends and family think this quirk is hysterical.  They will open the drawer, searching for a spoon to stir their coffee, and die laughing.  “Seriously, Katie?” they say. “What’s up with your drawer?”


I explain that I have never understood why people organize their silverware.  It takes so long and doesn’t actually save you real time when you select your silverware.  I don’t care that my silverware drawer looks like a disaster.  It works for me.  A few weeks ago – it hit me like a lightening bolt.  The secret to greater happiness lies within that damn silverware drawer. 


I hereby declare this year The Silverware Drawer Year.  I’ve always said that the Type A personality is the best and worst to posses.  If used for good, it can be pretty amazing – you can accomplish a lot, check off goals, and move forward in your career.  But if used for evil, it can trip you up.  The drive for perfectionism is really a double-edged sword.  I’ve reached a tipping point (hardy har har) in my life – for the first time, I think my personality is truly starting to get the best of me.


But I have all the resources that I need to turn around my attitude.  So I’m going to do it in 2013.


No longer will I worry about getting this done or that done unless it really, really needs to be completed.  I will not take on any projects that I’m not 100% behind.  I will go to bed instead of doing laundry.  I will not train for races that I don’t have time or energy for; I’ll still exercise and race because I love it, but I’m going to adopt a different attitude about it.  I will take more opportunities to simply rest on the couch while Henry naps.  I will let go of some of my Type A quirks that bring me down, not lift me up.  I will take deep breaths when I start to hyperventilate over my dirty floors because dirty floors really don’t matter in the grand scheme of my life.  I will refuse to panic if an email or phone call is not answered immediately.  I will work to my make business and my husband’s business successful, but I will never work past my breaking point.  The words ‘time management’ will not escape my lips.  I will focus only on the things that matter:  my husband, Henry, my animals, myself, and my family and friends.


Since my 2013 NYR is pretty much a non-goal goal, I do have one ‘behavior modification’ in mind.  I’m going to try to get to bed earlier every night.  Over the holiday, the Husband went on a four-day vacation with his friends, and I had nothing to do once Henry went to bed besides go to sleep, too.  Some nights, I crashed at 9:15.  I’ve maintained the habit of a 9:45 – 10:30 bedtime since, and I can’t tell you what a difference it’s made in my mood.  Instead of TV and late night emailing, this year, I’m going to make bubble baths and reading part of my nighttime routine.


Honestly… I’m pretty excited.  I’ve been living like this for a week already, and although my kitchen is a disaster and my inbox is insane, I feel so good.  I don’t think I’ve ever been less stressed out in my life, which is saying something. 


I’ve grown a lot since I started this blog in 2008.  When I began, I was a 24 year-old technical writer for a consulting firm, living in an apartment in Florida, and engaged to my college sweetie, who was toiling away for his master’s degree.  Now, I’m living in my own house in North Carolina, nearly one year away from 30, married with a child (!), a furmom to three pets, and a work-from-home mom who helps her husband run his own clinic.  Life changes… people change… and attitudes have to change, too.  It’s really been a pleasure to write about my journey, and I’m excited to take you along on this ride. 


Here’s to doing less but living more.  May this year be the most fulfilling yet.



  • Lauren January 1, 2013, 9:03 am

    I love this and something I’ve vowed to do myself! I couldn’t agree more that having a Type-A personality is a good thing in ways, but it can also work against you in terms of letting go and appreciating moments as they come. I’ve definitely made huge strides in this task last year and I promise myself to continue to work on it for 2013. Honestly, I never thought I’d say this, but I’ve never been happier because of it. Happy New Year to you friend!

  • Colleen January 1, 2013, 9:17 am

    Love this! As a type A mom of three (plus two furbabes) and had to realize my floors are going to be dirty, I can’t keep pushing myself to keep everyone happy and the house clean–forgetting about me. 2013 is definitely forgetting the little things, taking care of myself, and enjoying the moment.

    • Vikki January 1, 2013, 8:55 pm

      A perfectly clean house is a sign of a life wasted. (A friend of me told me this when I was talking about how I needed to clean more.)

  • Katie of Cabbage Ranch January 1, 2013, 9:24 am

    I’ve loved your recent posts about recognizing your limits and curating your life. I am definitely one who will always push harder and do more instead of giving myself a break. I can’t always control outside demands (two small kids, craaaazy busy/long hours at work) but I can- and need to- pick and choose the demands I put on myself. Thanks for your openness- it got me really thinking about it, and as a result I hope to make better choices for myself and my family.

  • Ashley @ My Food 'N' Fitness Diaries January 1, 2013, 9:30 am

    Love this post Caitlyn! Thanks so much for your sharing your thoughts on life. I’m very Type A too so this is all something I’ve been working on as well. Cheers to a healthy and stress free 2013! 😉

  • Dory January 1, 2013, 9:49 am

    I have to say I am really happy to see this post from you. When you were doing you, “time every minute if every day to see how I can pack in more” I was concerned but chalked it up to a difference in personalities. I love achieving and setting goals, but I’m very cognizant of why I have the goals I do. For me, I set goals to continue to be happy and fullfilled. In general, our culture seems to want more, do it faster and always grow exponentially. And it doesn’t seem to be getting us happier or more fulfilled. I hope your new year is filled with love, happiness and dreams coming true.

    • Jen January 2, 2013, 6:28 am

      Yes! This. I was also “worried” when I kept reading posts about how you needed to organize your time and “time manage”. Ugh – if I hear that word again! 😉 It’s great to set goals, but life is meant to be lived…not constantly pushing forward. Trust me, stop and smell the roses. Or one day you will regret you hadn’t. I have missed out on much of my 20’s and now that I’m in my early 30’s, I so sorely, sadly regret it.

  • Jen W. January 1, 2013, 10:09 am

    Thatta girl….. AMEN!

  • Sam @ Better With Sprinkles January 1, 2013, 10:16 am

    As a fellow type A-er, I definitely appreciate this post! Some times I let myself get too stressed out and hyped up about things that don’t really matter in the long run. I find that when I do actually let go and refuse to stress over little things, I’m a lot happier.

  • Becca @ Blueberry Smiles January 1, 2013, 10:18 am

    The more bubble baths and sleep I get, the happier I am too. Happy New Year!

  • Natalie @ Free Range Human January 1, 2013, 10:30 am

    I love this, Caitlin. This is so insightful and so dang true. I need to apply this to my own life for sure.

  • Katie @ Peace Love & Oats January 1, 2013, 10:38 am

    Gosh I hope in five years I’m where you are! I’m still in just about the same place as I was when I started my blog a year and a half ago, just a year and a half further through law school!

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat January 1, 2013, 10:39 am

    Holy smokes Caitlin, you are on a roll with these life posts lately!! I love your whole Silverware Drawer Year idea. While I’m incredibly goal oriented (and yes, I’ve got that sometimes-great, sometimes-terrible type A personality), I’ve noticed this year that my goals are more to do with spending time with people I care about and doing things that make me a better person. Sleep, meditation, yoga, and other activities that make me feel great are being prioritized so that I can be my best for the people in my life that I really care about. Happy New Year!

  • Army Amy* January 1, 2013, 10:48 am

    Great post! One of my hopes for 2013 is that I can be a little more zen and learn to let go. I’m also type-A, and it often manifests itself as a need for control. Being an Army spouse makes that darn near impossible sometimes. I know that I’ll ultimately be happier if I can be more accepting and “go with the flow.” Now the trick for me will be figuring out how to get there.

    Best of luck with everything this year!*

  • Deanna - Coach Calorie January 1, 2013, 10:58 am

    This is exactly the type of “resolutions” I set for myself too. Happiness in the everyday, and as I saw on pinterest “Stop the glorification of busy”. Happy New Year!

  • Katie @ Soulshine and Sassafras January 1, 2013, 11:14 am

    I love this. Happy New Year, Caitlin!

  • Becky January 1, 2013, 11:15 am

    Great post! And I can totally empathize. My type A personality often leads to late-night cleaning sessions and non-stop email-checking. I’ve recently begun to let up on myself and am loving it. I feel so much lighter! Hope you have a wonderful New Year.

  • Erin January 1, 2013, 11:32 am

    Caitlin! I love this! I love your new attitude towards 2013 and being Type A. I think you’re going to find a lot of freedom, adventure, and passion living without resolutions or goals per say. Back in the fall I gave up goals and found it extremely liberating. I learned a lot about myself during that time, which is why I have things I want to accomplish this year but I’m trying to refrain from attaching numbers or dates to them. I want to work on things because they make my heart sing, not because I feel like I have to. I’ve noticed a lot of people shifting their resolutions this year and I think it’s great… can’t wait to see what the new year has in store for us all! xo!

  • Katie January 1, 2013, 12:14 pm


  • Kyla January 1, 2013, 12:47 pm

    This is why I love your blog. I love your honesty and open approach to the world. Thanks for letting us be a part of your lives.

  • Kelli January 1, 2013, 1:01 pm

    Love this!! you seem so centered and content. Love love love. have a great year!

  • Kim January 1, 2013, 1:04 pm

    Amen to the silverware drawer! This has been a timesaver in our house for years and it’s inspired other changes – I stopped sorting most of my casual clothes (no more separate piles for workout bottoms and workout tops and lounging t-shirts, they are all in a big pile together) which saves mega time when folding laundry. I also share socks with the husband since we have the same size, voila only one sock drawer needed. I am horrible with the floors too, and my close friends understand that we really only sweep and vacuum when “certain” people come over – i.e. judgmental in-laws lol this is a wonderful post and good luck to you in 2013 🙂

  • Katy January 1, 2013, 1:05 pm

    What a great goal!!! I love the Silverware Drawer concept. Best of luck!

  • Leslie January 1, 2013, 1:17 pm

    I didn’t think I was going to set a “resolution” this year, but after reading this I think I am going to try to adapt the same attitude. Feeling very inspired, thank you!!

  • Penny January 1, 2013, 1:51 pm

    I have to tell you…..when you first blogged about your silverware drawer, I was shocked. I thought, “No way could I do that. NO WAY.”


    I have always HATED the task of organizing my silverware as well. After your post, the concept of just throwing everything in the drawer slowly started to invade my brain. I thought it over for about a week. Maybe two weeks. And then one day, I was standing in front of my open silverware drawer, holding the little dishwasher basket, and I thought, “What would happen if I just tried it?”

    I turned the basket upside down and watched everything fall in all haphazard-like.

    I won’t lie… was downright invigorating.

    I’ve never went back. Every time I dump my silverware in the drawer, I smile and think of you.

    The first time my husband saw me do this, he eyes got really wide and he stared at me like I had lost my mind. After a minute or two, he said, “That makes sense. It’s kind of pointless to spend all that time arranging them.”

    In my house, we love you for liberating us from the blasted task of organizing silverware. 🙂

    • Caitlin January 1, 2013, 7:32 pm

      Hahah yes!!!!

  • Jenna January 1, 2013, 2:02 pm

    Hate the ‘silverware drawer’ issue so much that I have a cutlery container [courtesy of ikea].
    No sorting, no organizing, no problem.

  • Maria January 1, 2013, 2:03 pm

    I am in! very inspiring but I think it is going to be extremely difficult (at least in my case).

  • Judy E. January 1, 2013, 2:08 pm

    Great post, Caitlin. Most people don’t come to this realization until they hit their 60’s.

  • Jenn January 1, 2013, 2:28 pm

    Good for you, and I wish you a very happy new year!

  • Janessa January 1, 2013, 2:45 pm

    Yay!! Good for you. Happy New Year!!

  • Casey January 1, 2013, 2:46 pm

    Wonderful post. Similar ideas have been on my mind. But you put it all together in a beautiful post! Have you seen that graphic? It says “You can choose only two if these in life. What do you choose? … 1. Clean home 2. Babies 3. Sanity.” while I def won’t let my home became a total disaster I have learned (btw I have a 9 month old) that if I can save my sanity and enjoy some precious moments with my son. What does it really matter if dirty dishes sit in the sink overnight? You are totally right. What matters is the big stuff, not dirty floors.

  • Hayley @ Running on Pumpkin January 1, 2013, 3:18 pm

    This is something I should really work on too – doing less sometimes to be happy rather than always thinking it’s better to do more efficiently. Thanks for this reminder and it will be on my mind going into the new year 🙂

  • Sara@fitcupcaker January 1, 2013, 3:29 pm

    I like your plan: my resolutions were easy and small like drink more water! lol

  • Cristin January 1, 2013, 3:45 pm

    This is the most “real” New Year’s post I’ve read on any blog. Love it. Health and happiness.

  • Sarah January 1, 2013, 4:37 pm

    All the best with your non-resolution resolutions. 🙂
    I’m hoping to focus more on simplicity in 2013. Not everything has to be complicated and I want to incorporate that philosophy into my daily life.

    I do find it interesting and surprising that you consider yourself Type A. You don’t really come across that way at all in your blog. That’s not a bad thing just an observation.

  • Angela January 1, 2013, 5:56 pm

    I love this post. Due to my long working hours, last year I spent a lot of the year determined to squeeze every drop of time out of the evening/night when I got home. Not even really being productive but being determined to have time to go on the internet, watch late night tv etc. This left me so drained and exhausted that my long working hours would take even more of a toll and leave me feeling even more defeated at night-time. This year I am going to try to remember that even if I don’t have much time, I need to relax, I need to look after myself in order to be the best person I can be for my husband, my family and my friends and myself!

  • Laura January 1, 2013, 6:19 pm

    Your silverware drawer is the equivalent of my desk drawer. Usually a complete and utter mess. I literally just shove everything into one drawer, so many random things because I have no where else to put them, as if my drawer was a bottomless pit that just absorbs things I dont want to deal with lol
    But maybe I should resolve to keep this drawer organized this year, hoping that it will inspire a little more organization in my life.

  • Lisa January 1, 2013, 6:36 pm

    My Mom gave me a sign for my kitchen for Christmas that says: “Good Moms have dirty ovens, sticky floors and happy kids.” I already believed this and understand that you must sometimes have the first two in order to have the third. (I definitely have the first two and I hope that I will always have the third.) It does feel good to have it reaffirmed for me on my wall everyday and to know that my Mom knows that I value my kids’ happiness over a clean house!

  • Julia January 1, 2013, 6:58 pm

    thank you for this!! happy new year 🙂

  • sarahf January 1, 2013, 7:02 pm

    That’s a great resolution, sometimes I think we are too goal oriented in our society, and forget that “taking it easy”, or “spending quality time with my family and friends” are as worthy goals as “complete a triathlon” or “get a promotion”.

  • Anna January 1, 2013, 9:54 pm

    I love your “in 2008 I was at this place in life, and now I’m here.” It gave me such hope!!!! I often feel desperate to move on to the next phase in life. I’m working on my BA in Dietetics and want to be done with school so bad so that me and my husband can start a family! Also, we moved back into my parents and I’m antsy to get our own place again too. But that one statement really gave me peace, knowing that in time, we will get there!

  • Sara January 1, 2013, 10:30 pm

    I’ve been reading your blog for YEARS now but never commented. I always come back because I find your approach to life and health so refreshing and inspiring. I love your non-resolution — it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about too, recently. Happy New Year!

  • Allison January 1, 2013, 10:42 pm

    This is a great (non) resolution! Lately I am trying to strive for ‘tidy’ most of the time (clear of clutter) and only go for the deep clean…eh…once a month or so? I feel like the house generally looks pretty good as long as no one is doing the white glove test 🙂

    Oh! And I just dump silverware in the drawer and my husband goes back and rearranges it after me!! Ack!

  • Britt @ Balanced Britt January 2, 2013, 12:57 am

    All of our silverware pretty much lives in the dish strainer on our counter. I don’t think it ever makes it to the drawer before it is used and washed again. More times than not we end up using the same 2 or 3 pieces of silverware and just continue to wash and grab them back out of the strainer.

  • Taya January 2, 2013, 1:08 am

    I just want to let you know how grateful. I am to have read this post. Some downfalls of my own personality are very similar, and the perfectionist in me has lately been dragging me down. When you have lofty goals and high expectations, it’s easy to be too hard on yourself and forget to relax. Even worse, not achieving every fantasy goal can really make me neglect what I DID achieve. And it is SO wonderful to hear about how much your life has flourished throughout the last few years, simply by putting positive energy and work into what you love. I’m sort of at the place you were when you began blogging, and I’m encountering a lot of uncertainty and impatience for big changes to happen NOW. But it is so comforting to remember that those changes take time and patient conservation. Thank you!

  • Danielle January 2, 2013, 1:31 am

    I’ve been reading your blog for years and I don’t think I’ve ever commented, but I just wanted to let you know that this post was exactly what I needed as I think about the upcoming year. After reading so many other people’s specific or lofty goals for 2013, your post really helped me focus on what I truly want to “achieve” in the upcoming year.

    Everything about this post so perfectly relates to my life. I am type-A in many ways, and not at all in others (I have my own sever versions of your silverware drawer “quirk”), and while I usually use my type-A personality as a productive force, I too let it inject negativity in my life from time to time. This year I want to capitize on all the benefits of being type-A without letting it get the best of me. Even your one specific goal of an earlier bed-time is definitely the one concrete goal I should strive for, especially considering I have to be up for work in less than 5 hours.

    That was a really long way of saying, thanks for such a great post at the perfect time. I’ve always enjoyed your blog and I’ll be bookmarking this post to read (and re-read) throughout 2013.

    Happy New Year!

    • Danielle January 3, 2013, 12:08 am

      Just realized I wrote sever… meant to say several.

  • Jill Hughes January 2, 2013, 4:29 am

    Best post you have ever written! Thanks!

  • Sara January 2, 2013, 9:19 am

    Love it!! Best NYR (or non-NYR) 🙂

  • Sarah January 2, 2013, 11:11 am

    Just looking at the disorganized silverware is driving me nuts. Seems like finding what you need would take more time than just putting them in the right spot.

    • Marissa C January 6, 2013, 7:09 pm

      Haha agreed!

      But I like the overall concept 🙂

  • FitBritt@MyOwnBalance January 2, 2013, 11:52 am

    Love this post Caitlin! I see a lot of parallel between your type-A traits and my type-A traits. Although my silverware drawer is pretty neat, there are other things in my life that are a mess and I need to embrace some of that messiness in my life and stop obsessing. I am making this my no more insomnia year! I want to stop waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to get back to sleep because I am worrying over everything. I think this will make myself and my husband happier (and more rested).

    Thanks for inspiring me!

  • Amanda January 2, 2013, 5:29 pm

    I love your non-NYR! It’s totally the opposite of my resolution verb, and I’m kind of jealous. This is making me rethink my resolution and maybe edit it a little to make my life less stressful. Thanks for sharing!

  • Jessica January 2, 2013, 7:14 pm

    Your silverware drawer reminds me of the Monica’s Secret Closet episode of Friends!

    I hate unloading the dishwasher more than loading it, so I usually sort the silverware when I’m putting it INTO the dishwasher, so when it’s time to unload I can just grab them in a clump and throw them in the drawer already sorted. 🙂

    I don’t think I’m really Type A, but I find that I compare myself to others often and am hard on myself for not having accomplished the things I feel I should have by now. This post helped me see that I need to take some time away from the worry and just live life one day at a time. Happy New Year!

  • Geraldine Jane January 2, 2013, 10:05 pm

    This is so encouraging and well-timed for me! Today for the first time I can recall I came to work without making my bed. I am training for my first half marthon but have struggled with injuries. Today I had the choice of covering the distance required in my training programme at a slow pace or cutting it short to get home in time to get everything else done before work. Today I opted for giving up putting on makeup and making the bed. For me, this is radical. I have always put keeping the house as perfect as I can and presenting an immaculate image as my top priority at the expense of what I REALLY want to do. Well, not this year 🙂 Thanks for the encouragement to be a middle-aged rebel 😉

  • Amber K January 3, 2013, 9:20 pm

    I am far too OCD to let my silverware drawer get like that, but I understand your sentiment. (as I continue to organize my silverware in the dishwasher so I can just grab and dump when it’s done). 😉

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