Some people pooh-pooh resolutions. They say they’re “uneccesary” and “set you up for failure/disappointment” as well as “not focusing on the bigger picture” and being “too legalistic” (?! to that last one). Sorry, folks. I was raised to understand that goals are helpful stepping stones to get you to where you want to be, and resolutions are just that-goals. Not to mention EVERYONE could use a little discipline in their lives and resolutions can help.
As for setting you up for failure? Well, duh, if you make completely unrealistic goals then, yup, failure and disappointment are almost guaranteed to follow. I mean, seriously, if you put down “I will lose 150lbs in the New Year!” Is it possible? Yes. Healthily and while enjoying the rest of your year? Eh, probably not. Will you even be able to keep the weight off? HA! Most likely you’ll hit the gym hard in January slack off by March and then start yo-yo dieting throughout the summer. The goal “get in better shape in 2014!” is, well, more reasonable, but so vague as to be pretty much worthless. There isn’t much to really hold you to that goal, technically if you lose a pound by the end of the year you’ve “met” your goal.
So, a good goal? How about training for a race-push yourself to run more or faster than you’ve done before. Or, decide to try a certain number of “healthy dishes” throughout the year. Small goals that lead to lifestyle changes can be very beneficial and uplifting.
Here’s a few other tips:
Keep successfully met goals on your previous list for the following year. Made a goal to read ten new books and met it? Keep that goal for the next year. Having a goal on your list that you’ve met before allows you to A) make the underlying effect (ie an expanding reading base) a habit and B) gives you a goal that you know without a shadow of a doubt that you can accomplish since you did it the previous year. Eventually, those goals will hopefully just merge into your lifestyle and you’ll have to find new goals. 🙂
Limit your goals. Don’t make 50 drastic New Year’s Resolutions and then be surprised when you break or don’t met them. Give up one thing, not five. If you give up ALL sweets, soda, and fastfood in one fell swoop (especially if they were staple parts of your diet) than after a few weeks of salad and water you’re most likely going to give in. Give up just soda. Or JUST candy-but not cookies or cake. Give up McDonalds, but allow Chick-fil-a. Maybe eventually you want to be rid of all of the above, and that’s great! But take it one step (year) at a time to allow yourself time to make the adjustment.
Fail forward. Every year I put something on my list related to cooking. I have YET to successfully complete any of those goals. But this year I got really close! The point is not that I’ve “failed” those resolutions, the point is that I’m getting better at cooking. Life happens, you may not be able to fulfill all of your resolutions every year, and that’s ok as long as you don’t then completely give up. If your goal is to watch 50 new movies by 2014 and you only manage to watch 35, well, hey, that’s 35 new movies you’ve seen! If your goal is to give up soda and you forget and sip your hubby’s Mt. Dew while in the movie theater, don’t go “Well, that’s it for this year I guess…” and buy an extra large Diet Coke. Go “whoops!” and move on with your resolution. You’ll still have drunk a lot less soda by the end of the year, even if you slip up in a few places.
Share your goals. Basic accountability, people. I hate accountability. By nature I prefer to not tell anybody what I’m doing until it’s succesfully done. But that does two things that can be undermine the whole point of making goals. One, it makes it easy to give up on goals. If no one else knows you aren’t supposed to have McDonalds then noone will call you out when you chow down on your big mac meal and you can shove your guilt to the side with your fench fries. Two, because it makes it so easy to give up on goals, you fail at a lot more of them, and the frustration can easily turn inwards. You start believing you can’t really do anything, that you’re stuck where and how you are, that you’re a failure, and worthless, and fat, and slovenly, or whatever. When you tell people your goals, not only can they hold you accountable, but they can also offer support and encouragement. There is a reason self help groups can be effective.
To that end, here’s my list of goals for 2014.
- Read 20 new books
- Watch 10 new movies
- Memorize 1st chapter of Ecclesiastes (I’ve been a slacker when it comes to scripture memorization. That needs to stop.)
- Make 5 new recipes and at least 1 has to use the crock pot. (Last year I had “make 3 and have Brian try them.” Well, I made more than 3 new ones, but Brian only tried two: a new frosting recipe and a cheesy alfredo sauce. In his defense, most of the new recipes were geared towards Cade…)
- Finish a scrapbook (yeek! I am getting so far behind!)
- No soda. (I really don’t drink much at all, this just makes it official.)
- No french fries, including (groan!) chick-fil-a waffle fries. Sweet potato fries are ok.
- Starting with 5 pushups these first two weeks, do pushups daily, increasing the amount by increments of 5 every two weeks. (I’ll be up to 130 pushups by end of December 2014)
There you have them! Not even 10 goals but plenty to keep me occupied. 🙂