It’s that dreaded time of year again when people find it inexplicably acceptable to demand witness to your deepest hopes and darkest insecurities. Yep, it’s time to make those New Year’s resolutions: promises you know you won’t keep and plans that will not go further than the first bowl of chips and salsa.
I hope it’s not too obvious that I’m not a fan of resolutions made and never kept. It’s not the premise of setting goals or trying to better oneself that chafes me. I just find it hard to understand how people can only set goals when they’re forced by convention and pressure to do so. I can’t comprehend how people can withstand 11 months of goal-less meandering and suddenly think we should all hear how this year, “I’m gonna … ” Especially when we know you’re not gonna.
So do my wife a favor this year and don’t tell me about your resolutions. Don’t misunderstand my rant, though. Resolutions are good for mental and psychological wellness. The tradition is steeped in human history and dates all the way back to ancient Babylonian times. Used correctly, they serve as a compass to guide us toward the goals we all need so badly because without goals, we become stagnant as we glide through less-than-satisfying lives toward the eventual binge-watching potato ending.
I’m not asking you to stop improving. I’m just asking you to quit making those Dec. 31 promises that die quickly in the light of Jan. 1. If you have something you want to do, then Just Do It.
I get it. It’s not that easy — it never is. One long run won’t make your skinny jeans loose and one kind word won’t empty the swear jar. But one mile has never been walked without that first step. The first step is understanding that resolutions are nothing more than goals most people don’t take seriously enough to create before they’re pressured to do so. Quit using resolutions as temporary blinders to keep from achieving your dreams.
We can all improve ourselves by sharpening our strengths and dulling our weaknesses. The best of us, in fact, are typically the ones trying hardest to improve on a continual basis. Many of those making a living at motivational speaking rely on the “SMART rule,” and I think it’s a pretty smart acronym.
Specific: A vague goal will leave you with the feeling of a fuel leak over an uncharted ocean. You’ll never know how much further you’ve got to go and you’ll likely ditch long before you reach safety.
Measurable: Whether it’s flight hours, belt size or finding the blue crab that ate Amelia Earhart, some form of a goal line is needed in every game to determine the winner.
Attainable: If you begin with a goal you can never achieve, you’ll not only give up this time, but you’ll probably give up on ever achieving any dream again.
Relevant: SMART is easy to remember and recite, but the acronym should really begin with the R because all goals should begin with the relevancy. It’s the all-important “why.” Why expend extra calories to attain something you really don’t care about? If the goal doesn’t ignite your passions, then why are you doing it, and how do you think you’ll ever stay motivated through the eventual hard times?
Timeframe: Put some stripes on your chosen field of battle. The goal line is an obvious ending, but bigger goals demand some intermediate lines to represent steps you must take or timelines you must achieve. For the longest and biggest goals, you could call these steps something silly like “resolutions.”
So take some time to develop your long- and short-term goals independent from your resolutions and then use the new year as an opportunity to check your literal and figurative logbooks. The time will not be wasted, I promise. And if you find yourself ahead of your goals, good for you. Now work harder to achieve them. If you’re behind, well Chuck Yeager once said, “You do what you can for as long as you can, and when you finally can’t, you do the next best thing. You back up, but you don’t give up.”
Goals are nothing more than a destination. If you don’t put a destination into your GPS, it’ll only tell you where you are and not how to get where you’re dreaming of going. RWI