I think most of the people I’ve known over the years laugh at making New Year’s Resolutions. Yet many do make a list every year and even get started on them, only to fizzle out.
From past experience, I know none of those silly things on my list are going to happen, so I stopped wasting my time some years back. Why make ourselves feel so guilty for no reason? We beat up on ourselves too much as it is.
New Year’s Resolutions fail because our heart isn’t in them. We’re making a wish list with no ETA:
- I wish I were still skinny.
- I wish I liked fruits and veggies more.
- I wish I earned more money.
- I wish my car didn’t look so bad.
Even telling ourselves might not be strong enough:
- I’m going to lose weight.
- I’m going to eat more fruits and veggies.
- I’m going to earn more money.
- I’m going to save for another car.
What we need instead is a set of goals, SMART goals, that is:
S – Specific – Else it’s not a goal, it’s a wish.
M – Measurable – Check it off on the calendar every time you repeat it. Do this even if you have to hide a pocket calendar in your purse or briefcase.
A – Attainable – Do you have the ability or the power to reach the goal(s)?
R – Realistic – Will you spend 80% of your time on it? You’re on the road to burnout if your life isn’t balanced.
T – Timely – Are you going to work on the goal every day? Twice a week? How many minutes or hours? How long can you keep up the routine?
Why are you making the list?
Some “why’s” are a lot stronger than others. Did someone else (maybe Miss Nasty at the office) rudely say you were fat? Does your medical chart have you classified as obese and at risk?
Or did the doctor tell you to lose weight and to start by walking 30 minutes a day? If you have bad knees or hips, walking on concrete sidewalks can damage them further, especially if the sidewalks slope instead of being level. (And in our “nice” community, some sidewalks are dangerous due to the roots of city-owned trees lifting them up.)
You can walk in the street if you don’t have manic drivers careening through. Or find a shopping mall that allows seniors in early to walk. Regardless, starting with a 10-minute walk may make more sense than 30 minutes.
Most of us also have specific needs or ambitions for 2016. Are you going to enter the Ocean Conservancy’s Photo Contest next year? Better schedule some ocean or coastal visits with your camera gear soon!
Are you going to publish that novel in the next 12 months? Writing 500 words four days a week could produce two novels in 2016. Or sign up for NaNoWriMo next year!
Just about anything we can imagine we can make happen, but not without work on our part. And not just by relying on luck either. “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” (This has been attributed to Roman philosopher Seneca, though is disputed.)
Are we making a wish list or setting goals? If our heart is in our wishes, we’ll set SMART goals and complete each small step to achieve them in 2016.