I really like this ritual we have of making resolutions, being enthusiastic about them, trying for a few days, and then letting them die slow, starving deaths just out of earshot so that they don’t bother us.
It’s an odd thing we do where we set aside this one time of year to make promises to ourselves that we are not going to keep.
I’m not being cynical, about 8% of people follow through with their resolution. This makes my friends who go to the gym all year really happy, because they only have to deal with a flood of people for the first few weeks of January or so.
Why do we make doing good things in our lives into a once-per-year, make-or-break type thing?
That seems to create a lot of pressure, and our resolutions are often things that require hard work and for us to break really entrenched habits. Really, we need as much practice in choosing and setting goals as we do in achieving them, because most people are dead in the water before January 1st even gets here.
So how do we set good goals? How do we stack the odds in our favor?
In general, when talking about goals, we need them to be concrete, measurable and to have deadlines. We need to write them down. We need to work on them every day.
Let’s take the most common resolutions as examples:
- Lose weight:
- How are you going to do this? Gym? Diet? Those pills on late night television? Methamphetamine? How much do you know about weight loss? Which gym will you go to? Where will this fit into your schedule? Will you need a personal trainer? Do you have a friend that will go with you? How many times a week will you work out? Do you have any physical issues that need attention?
- How much weight do you want to lose? Is this more health oriented or do you want to look better? Where do you want to lose this weight? Is this actually possible for you? Is this a healthy number for you?
- How much weight do you want to lose per week or month? How long do you have to reach this number you are looking for?
- Get organized:
- What does this actually mean? Are we talking about organizing your time, your house, your books, your paperwork? Are you looking to get rid of stuff or just put your stuff in order? What will this do for you?
- What does organized mean for you? When will you achieve this goal? What will that look like? Can you state this without using the word “organized”?
- What will you need to accomplish every week and every month? How long do you need to be “organized”?
- Get better with money:
- Are we talking about saving more? Curbing spending? Investing wisely?
- How much do you need to save per week and month and day? How much less do you need to spend? These all need to have actual numbers on them.
- When will you consider yourself to have achieved this goal? What is the numerical goal? How much time do you give yourself to achieve this?
As you can see, there are a lot of questions associated with each of these. I could have gone on too, but I got tired of asking them, and this is emblematic of why we fail to achieve our goals and resolutions.
I am a fan of working on our goals every single day.
Immerse yourself in what it is you want to learn and change. Read about fitness and exercise on your rest days, make knowing about money your hobby. Everywhere you go, look at how things are organized, notice what you like and don’t like about how your friends keep their house. Make a point to talk to and surround yourself with people who manage their time or money well, or who make fitness a part of their everyday lives.
Don’t let a goal be something that exists in a vacuum that you have to go deal with a few times a week.
Make it part of your week, not a chore.
Whatever you decide, I hope it goes well for you, but only you have control over that.
Happy New Year.