I don’t do New Year’s resolutions.
I know that’s kind of frowned on in the circles of the uber productive, but there it is. I suspect it’s probably because I can be a tad cynical, so I listen to friends as they list off their resolutions for the year and I make little internal bets with myself about how long they’re going to last. Because a resolution, if you stop there, is simply a setup for failure.
I do set goals every year.
You may be shaking your head and thinking, “Okay, whoopee, you use a different word. It’s the same thing.” But it really isn’t. A resolution, if all you make is the resolution, is a simple statement of the change you’d like to make. A goal has a plan attached to it. Let’s look at an example:
Resolution: I’m going to lose ten pounds.
Goal: I’m going to exercise for fifteen minutes a day on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in the morning before I shower and keep a food journal. As my stamina increases, I will increase the amount of exercise until I reach thirty minutes.
Now, that goal may result in the loss of ten pounds, but even if it doesn’t, you have a measurable set of steps that you can control. And that’s what I see as the major mistake in many resolutions–they involve things that the person can’t completely control. And that leads to disappointment when the result isn’t what they expected. And disappointment most often leads to giving up.
So don’t set yourself up to fail. If you struggle every year to keep your resolutions past Valentine’s Day, I challenge you to reframe them as goals, with a measureable plan of action made of steps that you control attached to them. And see if maybe this year isn’t a little more successful than the past.