It’s that time of year…again! The time when we look back over the last 365 days of our life trying to figure out what we did and didn’t accomplish; are we better off or the same as we were this time last year; and what, if anything, we’re going to do differently in the new year.
I envision that on this particular weekend there are many people sitting at home, curled up in a chair, with their journal and pen, writing out their new year’s resolutions and promising themselves that they’re going to stick to them — this time.
I think one of the reasons we struggle with keeping our resolutions is because that’s what they are — a “resolve” to either start or stop doing something. But the problem is that we tend to stop there. We stop with our list of Dos and Don’ts, and pray for the willpower to accomplish everything before the end of another 12-month period. Losing weight. Eating healthy. Traveling more. Saving money. Maybe even dating or marriage?
What we lack with resolutions are goals and strategies.
If we resolve to eat healthier, then eating carrots instead of potato chips for an afternoon snack might technically achieve our resolve, but does it really meet the goal of becoming a healthier eater? Especially if we happen to binge on cookies later that evening?
What if instead we set as a goal to eat more vegetables, while also reducing our intake of unhealthy foods (such as those cookies, fast foods, red meats, etc.). But to reach our goals, we can’t stop there. We need to set strategies to help us accomplish them. Perhaps one of our strategies for that goal might be to eat 30 percent more vegetables each week. A second strategy for that same goal of healthy eating might be to eat 30 percent less junk food per week. Another strategy could be to purchase more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other healthy groceries, while buying fewer sugary snacks, empty carbs, or processed foods.
Now we’ve not only listed a goal to work on, but we’ve outlined some specifics steps to take to help reach that goal. Don’t resolve to drink more water in 2018. Instead, set a goal of drinking a certain number of ounces of water each day above what you’re already drinking. For me, my goal is to drink 64 ounces of water each day. Since I’m currently only drinking about half that amount, one of my strategies is to set a regular time period each day to drink at least eight ounces of water at preset intervals.
Of course doing these things sound a lot simpler than they turn out to be, because mostly they require work; hard work. But setting goals without outlining strategies to reach them is like dreaming about visiting France, but never setting aside time on the calendar, or saving up money, or making the travel plans to go. It won’t matter how much you desire it, if you don’t make the arrangements to achieve it, then you’ll never reach the goal of accomplishing it.
So plan that European vacation. Start that business idea. Write that book or short story. Join that pilates class. Learn that new language. But don’t make resolutions. Set Goals. And then create Strategies to achieve them, and a timeline to stay on track. Keep them realistic and attainable.
Then perhaps a year from now, you’ll be sitting thinking back over all of the things you accomplished in 2018, instead of regretting those “resolutions” that fell by the side just weeks or months into the new year.
You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”
— Charlie “Tremendous” Jones