So why are all the gurus sending out messages with that kind of headline this year?
These are the guys who try to help the rest of us get our lives together, to help us succeed in our endeavors. But now they’re panning the making of resolutions.
Well, it seems they’re telling us to set goals instead of making resolutions. And that message matches my own intentions.
So what’s the difference?
When we make resolutions, it’s likely we won’t be 100% successful. We’ll break them relatively quickly, sending ourselves the message that we’ve failed. Okay, so we pick up our socks and renew our resolve. But having broken them once, we’re prone to do so again. In fact, it gets easier to break them the second time, having already accepted that we’re not perfect (and can’t expect to be). It gets ever easier to screw up. By the end of January, or sooner, we’re done!
Goals work exactly the opposite. We don’t expect to reach them instantly. We expect there to be a gradual ascent to whatever it is we want to achieve.
But there are issues in goal-setting, too. The challenge of achievement is deferred into the future. It means, typically, less incentive to get serious right now. It allows us to become lackadaisical, to procrastinate. There is less pressure for a high level of commitment.
I’m learning to change the road map for goal achievement, prompted on by an accountability partner.
Here’s the deal: we set a series of goals. Sure we may have a goal to achieve for the year. But then we break it down. What’s potentially achievable this month? To achieve that, what do I need to do this week? These markers along the way help to keep us on track.
I break it down even further. Each day I make a list of things that I should be working on today, quickly writing them down as they come to mind, then adding to them during the day as more things come to mind. Then I take the most important item, and set it as my priority. I do not simply go down the list from top to bottom—that would assume that, magically, the items had come to mind in their best order of priority, about as likely as running into a mermaid on my hike up the hill. By the end of the day, most things will be stroked off the list, but there may be a few things left.
The next day, I start over with a new list and throw yesterday’s out. If I just keep building on yesterday’s list, I will be prone to prioritize those things that were left over from that list, things that were lowest priority. Sure, I add them to today’s list, if they are still relevant, and the passage of time may have even increased their priority, but I don’t want to take that for granted.
Am I doing it right? I don’t know, what’s right? But it is helping me. As long as focussing on today doesn’t make me lose sight of my goal for this week, and for this month, but is, instead, contributing to those goals.
Your day and your life is different from mine. What’s working for you? I’d like to hear.