The Resolution Solution
Every January people sit down and make lists, either mental or literal, of goals that they want to accomplish in the new year. Everyone I know does this and I’ve done it myself. But I don’t know anyone who sticks to their resolutions more than a week, and that’s a generous estimate. Oh, I’m sure there is that one odd individual out there who experiences an epiphany and is able to actually accomplish their goal. But why does everyone else fail?
They set their goals too high.
I hear the arguments now: “We SHOULD set goals that are high! How are we going to achieve anything if we set goals that are too easy?” And to these chest-beaters I simply respond – an easy goal that is achieved takes us much farther down the road of progress than dreaming big and achieving nothing.
Part of the problem too is that the goal may not necessarily be that high, but that we look at it from the wrong perspective. Looking at goals that last a whole year puts undue pressure on us because we’re balancing our accomplishments with the load of work that lies ahead of us. If you’re sitting in January and you’re looking ahead to what you have to accomplish through December you’re adding a ton of stress to your life. “I have to do this for 364 more days??” If we think in these terms we can then get fatalistic about it “there’s no way I can do this for that long so I might as well give up now” or we turn to our old pal Rationalization and say, “If I can just do it most of the year then I’ve still accomplished my goal.” If we’re fatalistic we aren’t even giving ourselves a chance, and if we’re rationalizing we’re allowing ourselves to be lazy and defeating the purpose of a resolution.
My solution is this: Think of it in terms of what you want to accomplish daily and do it – just for that day. You can’t judge your success or failure based on what hasn’t happened yet. You don’t know what you can or will accomplish in the days ahead. Humans can only use their past to predict their future. But if your past is littered with laziness and negativity and you use this as a reference for your future success then I can promise you – you’re going to fail. A resolution is the conscious choice to be better. You cannot allow yourself to be pulled back into bad habits and negative thinking. You may be given a new year on January 1, but you are given a new day every day. Take advantage of this! Just because you allow one day to go to hell doesn’t mean that the rest of your week, month, or year is shot.
Small, easily achievable goals set daily is the surest road to success. Each day builds on the day before as well as each week and each month. Don’t think of what lies ahead and don’t focus on failures of the past. You live NOW. Don’t put undue pressure on yourself by expecting perfection, but don’t allow yourself to be seduced by ghosts of the past and give up either. What is past is over, what is to come is up to you. Live today. Be in the moment that is now. Choose daily what goals you want to accomplish for that day and do it. If you do this daily, the year will take care of itself.