A resolution, whether it’s made at the New Year or any other time, is a fragile thing. It can get swamped by other priorities, be badly chosen and never bloom, die stunted from being planted with too many other resolutions, wither from inattention, or fail to thrive in any number of other ways. But even if we’ve chosen our goals wisely and pursue them relentlessly, there’s one necessity that can make or break us: certainty about exactly what we’re doing.
I’m running into this problem at the moment with eating habits. I’m training for a half marathon in the Spring, my first, and at the same time I want to eat lower on the food chain so as to fight climate change. I also want to manage my cholesterol better, since I have a genetic predisposition to cholesterol problems, but there are at least two major schools of thought on how to do that, and they’re completely opposed to each other. So do I want to eat better in the New Year? Absolutely: that’s a very important priority for me. Do I know exactly how I want to eat better? Well, uh …
It probably seems obvious that I need to understand exactly how I want to be eating before I can follow through, but the truth is that the traditional way of setting goals or resolutions skips this essential step entirely: we resolve to lose weight or to be more organized, to have more time with family or to increase our productivity–but the truth is, none of these are really resolutions or goals. They’re wishes, aspirations, the ways we’d like to see things turn out. They’re important to think about, of course, but in order to be successful we have to know what exactly we plan to do. Track calories every day for six months at MyFitnessPal.com and go to the gym at least three times a week come Hell or high water? Plan a family activity every weekend? Spend ten minutes every workday morning to organize tasks? Those are goals. Those are resolutions.
I’ll point a couple of things out about those examples: first, each one of them is quantifiable. You don’t have to guess whether or not you’re on track with goals like those. Second, they’re focused on what we do, not on what we want to have happen. We can largely control what we do; what happens then is a lot less under our direction.
If you’re working on a resolution for the coming year, good luck! You can find more articles on the subject at http://www.lucreid.com/?tag=new-years-resolutions.
Photo by norsez