Resolutions, Rewards & Capacity for Change

Whether you set them each year or never bother, it seems impossible to not reflect a wee bit on new beginnings, change, and habits for the new year. Resolutions, Rewards & Capacity for Change explores personal reflections about longing and change, and I’d love to hear yours.

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My favorite definition of a New Year’s resolution? I created this just for you!

Funny New Year's Resolution quote and definition. What is a resolution? A firm To Do list for the first week of January. Hello Lovely Studio.
PIN ME!!! Hello Lovely Studio.

Resolutions, Rewards & Capacity for Change

I messed up big time a year ago. I declared 2018 the year of…

Well, I’m not going to disclose the two personal resolutions because: (a) they aren’t relevant now and (b) I don’t have to.

(One of my resolutions may have been to relinquish a modicum of privacy…ha!)

Swedish Christmas style outdoors at Christmas time. Hello Lovely Studio.
Resolutions, Rewards & Capacity for Change. Hello Lovely Studio.

Even though I set the intentions at the start of January, I failed miserably by February.

The resolutions actually brought distress since my declared intentions kept haunting me, reminding me of the failures.

Inspiring and funny quote by E. B. White. I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult. Hello Lovely Studio.
This just makes me smile!

I found an academic article about goals and rewards which sheds a little light on what went wrong and may help you as well.

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Pink on pink in Notting Hill. Hello Lovely Studio. See more pretty doors in London I snapped RIGHT HERE.

Woolley and Fishbach found that it is the goals which lead to immediate rewards that are most likely to be kept. However, we often make resolutions which involve long-term rewards, which are far less likely to be kept.

Blush pink walls in a beautiful powder room by The Fox Group.
Photo & Design: The Fox Group. See more of their work RIGHT HERE.

People will be persistent about keeping their resolutions as long as they are being rewarded while they are keeping them. Apparently we’re just not that good at delay of gratification at any age!

Inspiring quote by Hello Lovely Studio for New Year's: Maybe try a different approach even if it sort of scares you.
Hello Lovely Studio. Resolutions, Rewards & Capacity for Change.

The study got me thinking about rewards.

The whole reason for setting a resolution like healthier eating is for the reward of improved fitness, of less disease, and possibly a more attractive appearance, right? But if our healthy food choices are not delicious or satisfying, we likely won’t stick to the goal.

Soft and romantic Christmas vignette by Corner French Cottage.
Photo & Design: Corner French Cottage. See more French Country holiday decor inspiration RIGHT HERE.

So I think for me personally, I’ll do better at reaching my goals if they are very specific and small.

Instead of resolving to eat healthy in 2019, for example, I might decide on a specific healthier eating habit. For example, to not eat anything after 6 p.m. When I eliminate eating at night, I always sleep better and have less GI symptoms. Such immediate rewards are more likely to keep me persistent in my habits.

Inspiring New Year's resolution quote by Hello Lovely Studio: Set a goal that makes you want to get out of bed.
Resolutions, Rewards & Capacity for Change. Hello Lovely Studio.

Oh the healthier eating resolutions! Don’t we all have them!?!

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Hello Lovely Studio. Find my favorite Christmas potpourri to simmer on the stove RIGHT HERE.

When I was a teen, I used to babysit for a couple who attended Weight Watchers meetings together one night per week. After the meeting and weigh-in, they would swing by Baker’s Square and reward themselves with pie before returning home.

I recall thinking this routine was the silliest and most contradictory diet thing (yet I never complained since they sometimes gifted me with a whole French Silk pie!).

Beautiful festive Christmas planter outside the Atlanta Holiday Showhouse in 2018.
Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles Home for the Holidays Designer Showhouse. See more shots from the showhouse

Maybe it wasn’t completely ridiculous. If thinking about the pie following the weigh-in (an immediate reward) kept them diligent the remainder of the week – maybe I was the clueless one questioning their strategy.

I Resolve to Love White Paint in 2019

Pretty sure I can keep this one!

8 Lovely White Paint Colors to consider. My favorite whites. Hello Lovely Studio. #whitepaint #bestwhitepaint #paintcolors
Read the post about white paint colors HERE. Hello Lovely Studio.

I plan to write more on this topic later, but what I find more helpful than goal setting or resolution keeping is the idea of DAILY TRANSFORMATION.

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Resolutions, Rewards & Capacity for Change. Hello Lovely Studio. Find my mini cake recipe and cherry Christmas decor HERE.

In my experience, people in recovery are most acquainted with daily transformation – taking it a day at a time. You already know I’m a faith girl so for me, it’s about dedicating time daily to align with the divine.

Contemplation, meditation, prayer, and stillness are beautiful rhythms incorporated into my day. As I grow older, these practices help me to: cope, surrender, consent to Presence, stretch, grow, and enter healing.

My mini layer cake with cherries on top - a farmhouse Christmas tablescape by Hello Lovely Studio.
Hello Lovely Studio.
Find my mini cake recipe and cherry Christmas decor HERE.

Daily transformation isn’t always pleasant. It is often deeply humbling. Yet the rewards of inner peace, outward contentment, and improved relationships are rich.

Are the rewards immediate?

Not always.

Pretty wrapped Christmas packages with pink embellishments in a bedroom within the 2018 Atlanta Holiday Showhouse.
Photo: Sherry Hart. 
2018 Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles Home for the Holidays Designer Showhouse.
See more shots from the showhouse

But the rewards aren’t exclusive. They flow outward into relationships.

Bedroom in 2018 Atlanta Holiday Showhouse.
Photo: Sherry Hart. 
2018 Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles Home for the Holidays Designer Showhouse.
See more shots from the showhouse

When for 20 minutes or so, I am not clinging to past hurts or future worries, I am FREE in the RIGHT HERE and can be a vessel to receive and reflect light and love and peace.

For me, daily transformation means even the worse day will last 24 hours max before a new day dawns, new possibilities arise, and I can put on a new mind.

Inspiring New Year's quote by Hello Lovely Studio: Time to say no a whole lot more with no guilt. #resolution #newyear #hellolovelystudio
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What shifts or goals or resolutions do you intend to make in 2019?

A beautiful pastel powder room decorated with a Christmas wreath in the 2018 Atlanta Holiday Showhouse.
Photo: Sherry Hart.
2018 Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles Home for the Holidays Designer Showhouse.
See more shots from the showhouse

Will these new habits bring immediate rewards?

Beautiful French Country romantic placesetting by The French Nest Co Interior Design.
Photo & Design: The French Nest Co Interior Design. See more French Farmhouse Christmas inspiration HERE.

And if you won’t be making any resolutions, what lies at the basis of your decision to not bother?

Inspiring and encouraging New Year's resolution by Hello Lovely Studio. You'll feel better if you take a walk to clear your head.
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What’s interesting about this whole resolution discussion is it taps into our philosophies and beliefs about whether people can truly change.

Gorgeous Scandinavian style wallpaper in a bathroom in the 2018 Atlanta Holiday Showhouse.
Photo: Sherry Hart. 
2018 Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles Home for the Holidays Designer Showhouse.
See more shots from the showhouse

Know what I mean?

Pink townhouse in Notting Hill with pink door and gorgeous details.
Resolutions, Rewards & Capacity for Change. Hello Lovely Studio.

Whether the discussion centers on addiction or personality flaws, it’s easy to take a look around and think “people simply aren’t capable of change!”

It’s why transformation stories (whether they are human interest or interior design!) are so riveting–they seem remarkable and not typical.

Inspiring New Year's resolution by Hello Lovely Studio. It is time to be kinder and gentler to lovely you.
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I think change is sometimes difficult because we get the order of transformation mixed up. We tend to think that with outward changes, an inner change will follow.

French country dining room with white decor and romantic style. The French Nest Co Interior Design.
Photo & Design: The French Nest Co Interior Design. See more French farmhouse holiday decor HERE.

But in my experience, enduring change begins internally and only then flows naturally outward for the long run.

Simple white and gold tablescape for Christmas by Hello Lovely Studio.
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Transforming from the inside out almost always involves loss, grief, and at the very least slowing down, which so few busy folks are willing to do!

Inspiring quote: It is okay to take more time to decide what you want. Hello Lovely Studio.
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Spiritual or emotional transformation often requires healers, help, therapy, and work. Things often begin to feel worse before they feel better.

My cottage style French country bedroom at Christmas. Hello Lovely Studio.
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Sticking with the work requires trust in the process.

Grand and glorious Christmas decorated entry way with soaring tree! The Fox Group.
Photo & Design: The Fox Group.See more of the architect’s lovely work HERE.

And trusting often requires a leap of faith.

Vintage feather tree in galvanized tub at Trove in Rockford. #hellolovelystudio #christmasdecor #vintagechristmas
Hello Lovely Studio. See more of this vintage shop HERE.

And maybe fresh hope.

Inspiring quote for New Year's. You are truly not alone in the struggle. Hello Lovely Studio.
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But, oh the mountains that can move for those with faith in the valley!

Beautifully simple and elegant garden window box in London with cypress, ivy, and mums. Hello Lovely Studio.
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In your experience, what are the critical factors for real change to occur?

Rich charcoal grey painted brick exterior of a London flat with gorgeous window boxes filled with ivy, mums, and cypress. Hello Lovely Studio.
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Do you find it helpful to set daily intentions for yourself rather than a few big ones in January?

Adorable Westies in plaid jackets at Trove in Rockford, Illinois at Christmas time. Hello Lovely Studio.
Hello Lovely Studio. See more of Trove (where these Westies steal hearts!) HERE.

Wishing you gentle days of easing closer to the new year.

My entry at Christmas with a pom pom wreath and fresh greenery. Hello Lovely Studio.
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May you sense with awe the fresh possibilities and unknown blessings already on their way to you.

Vibrant cascading pink flowers on an English pub exterior in London by Hello Lovely Studio.
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If you’re a believer, may you lean into the invitations God is placing before you and bravely give your YES.

Inspiring New Year's resolution quote. At the end we won't regret forgiving others too much for their faults. Hello Lovely Studio.
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And may you find moments of quiet peace to hear the whispers in your soul, beckoning you to become the loveliness you seek.

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Peace to you right where you are.


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  1. Gretchen
    December 28, 2018 / 8:39 am

    Oh how I loved this article!!! Keep pressing in and on to Sweet Jesus, the lover of your soul!! The Spirit is leading and guiding you in your writing!! Thank you so much!! Blessings for 2019!!

    • michele
      December 28, 2018 / 11:44 am

      How I love the lover of my soul! What a blessing he doesn’t just hang out there – I see him everywhere and in everything, including this comment section. Thank you for your kind words and for reading. Happy New Year, friend.

  2. December 28, 2018 / 9:32 am

    I LOVE this post! Not only is it “real”, it is so inspirational.

    Many people do not believe in resolutions, but I always feel that this is a great opportunity to stop to reevaluate your life.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Happy New Year!

    Best, Kim

    • michele
      December 28, 2018 / 11:40 am

      Yes! Reevaluating and reflecting on the past year feels natural to me too – but I can see why a lot of others would be resistant to doing this since you must often confront pain and regret. If we could develop more capacity to see the pain/hurt/disappointment and hold it without fear that it will destroy us – I think THAT is where so much of the fruit is. I appreciate your time and kindness! xox

  3. Joanna
    December 28, 2018 / 10:12 am

    I stopped making resolutions years ago. I prefer to make changes in September. It’s always felt like a new beginning. I’m sure this stems from the children going back to school and starting their activities. So, this is the time when I shed the summer lazies and jump into the New.

    • michele
      December 28, 2018 / 11:37 am

      September does feel like a new beginning for me too in many ways – but if I’m honest I don’t typically enter that beginning very joyfully. I need good models like yours – the idea of leaping into September is awesome! xox

  4. Connie
    December 28, 2018 / 10:41 am

    As always, such lovely lovely images and thoughts to see on my cold, wintery day!

    I made a New Year’s resolution many years ago that I have never, never broken. What, you say? How can that be? She must be amazing at keeping those! But wait! Here’s the resolution I made:

    “NEVER make a New Year’s Resolution!” Hahahha! (But I do make daily “to do” lists and sometimes those even include some short term goals as well as long term goals.)

    However, on a more serious note— Many years ago I had an accident that affected my neurological system. I had several very bad years of health. One year I did make a resolution that I did keep, though somewhat nebulous it may seem. I resolved this: “I choose to be healthy. I choose to be happy.” While the issues of health continued, my attitude of change made for a much happier life. 🙂

    Life will always throw up surprises at us. Choosing to make the best of things can make those surprises a little easier to manage….and for me personally, relying on God more than myself enriched my life so much more!

    A very happy and healthy New Year to you and yours Michele!

    • michele
      December 28, 2018 / 11:34 am

      I honor that resolution from years ago you made! What an encouragement to hear that your accident led to deepening for you and a loving reliance on the Lord. I’ll never tire of hearing such stories of healing and redemption – we need them so desperately in our culture. Thank you for adding richness here by sharing sacred glimpses of your journey. Your effervescent energy is undeniably lovely. Happy New Year, friend. xox

  5. Karen H.
    December 28, 2018 / 11:05 am

    I have been setting goals for the new year for many years now. Resolutions don’t work for me. I really like your “daily transformations”. I will include this in my 2019 goals. I am a a believer, and want to spend more time leaning into God and listening to his plan for me. Michele, you have blessed me with your inspirational blog. Have a peaceful New Year!

    • michele
      December 28, 2018 / 11:30 am

      I appreciate you reading and considering these thoughts with such an open heart, Karen. Your desire to lean in more lifts my spirit! Thank you for taking the time to add to the beauty and for spreading peace. I pray this new year dawning will woo you with its many blessings! xox

  6. MoMo
    December 28, 2018 / 11:11 am

    Lovely and fun post, thank you. I’m bookmarking it for further perusal throughout the year. I’m sure I will find it fresh and inspiring each time I read it.
    Curious: what was that interesting cake in the photos? I’ve never seen anything like it!
    Wishing you and all readers a Happy and Blessed New Year.

  7. Mary
    December 28, 2018 / 3:43 pm

    You are so amazing. What a wonderful and important post. I loved the idea of leaning into God and accepting His invitation, bravely saying YES! Such a great thought and sentence. Well put, Michele.
    Resolutions? Improvement could manifest in so many ways. I have to often tell myself, “Speak less, do more.” That seems to work for me. Using my new Vitamix is a resolution. As a desire to, “drop a few”, I have decided to replace one meal a day with a yummy smoothie of fruits and veggies. The reward is the taste and enjoyment of the fresh, cool elixir that is really so much better than a cheeseburger! What will the new year bring? Like every year in history we will see good and bad, truth and false teaching, success and failure in our character while we wobble along day to day as a civilization. The comfort is in knowing that God is in control as His plan unfolds. Every day is a wonder and worth the journey. Blessings to you, as always.

    • michele
      December 28, 2018 / 9:27 pm

      Your words are always honey, Mary. Always a treat. Always sparkling with truth and wisdom. Thank you for adding so much beauty. Speak less, do more…what a wonderful reminder which if applied liberally everywhere, could change the world. (There are so many words out there right now, yes?) Good for you with the vitamix – it’s a wonderful machine! Here’s to weeble wobbling and sometimes getting it right! xox

  8. Sheila in SF
    December 28, 2018 / 10:23 pm

    I love how you write so truthfully and inspirational through spirituality yet manage to include design and decor as well. Blessings to you in the new year. One of my favorite blogs.

    • michele
      December 29, 2018 / 11:40 pm

      Thanks for reading and the support! Happy New Year!

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