Back in 4th grade, I remember the teacher made us do a class exercise to write New Years resolutions. The kid next to me had written down a few, and turned to ask me how many I’d written. As I was furiously scribbling, I smugly announced: 27.
I guess I’ve always been pretty competitive. Sometimes it means I completely miss the point of what I’m doing. I doubt I followed through with any of the resolutions that year – if I did, it was probably by accident.
So how do we fare as adults? What percentage of people would you guess actually stick with their resolutions all the way through the year? The answer: 10%.
But it’s not the high failure rate that I have a problem with. It’s that new year’s resolutions make us complacent in writing down and sharing our goals only once a year. Life moves too fast for that – just like life is too special for us to celebrate romance only on Valentine’s day, or count our blessings only on Thanksgiving.
One year is usually the wrong time frame for a goal. You’ll have more success if you go for either extreme: seriously commit to a long-term lifestyle change, or break down the goal into smaller achievable steps.
Here’s my personal example of breaking it down – my “holiday checklist.”
And here’s how I did:
Okay, I’m not suggesting you do it like this. As a close friend told me after seeing this (endearingly, I’m sure), “You have a problem.”
But here’s what I’m trying to get across: I found it helpful to write some goals down. All of them were achievable within a couple hours or days, but most of them are part of bigger, longer-term goals. I added some stuff to the list, and didn’t check off everything. But that’s okay. Circumstances change, and priorities do too – whether it’s the big stuff, like making more time for family, or the little stuff, like deciding not to finish that book because it wasn’t living up to the Amazon reviews.
So take the time to reflect often. Make goals frequently. Write them down somewhere you can see them. And then, perhaps most importantly of all: give up on some of them.