I’ve never really liked the idea of New Year’s Resolutions. If you want to change something about yourself or your life, then why not change it now? There isn’t much sense in waiting for January 1st to cobble together a few resolutions that you can theoretically achieve and then forgetting them within a month. When I was in college (only two years ago) the church group had us come up with a few specific New Year’s Resolutions for different aspects of our lives. A week later, I couldn’t tell you what I wrote. Not because I didn’t care, or didn’t want to change or improve. Just when someone else has me come up with some resolutions, they’re not my resolutions, I’m not invested in these goals. Clearly, if we’re going to improve ourselves, that drive needs to come from within.
Some of the most popular New Year’s Resolutions focus on health (lose weight, quit smoking, eat healthier) and broadening our horizons (learn something new, travel to new places, volunteer). All admirable goals, unfortunately, most people don’t come through on their New Year’s Resolutions. The driven 8% that successfully achieve their resolution, is overwhelmed by the staggering 38% that absolutely never achieve theirs. And of course, only 45% of Americans bother setting New Year’s Resolutions in the first place.
This trend of failure might be due to vague goals “lose weight / be less stressed” and ambitious goals outside our control “fall in love.” First, this lack of specificity dilutes the goal itself. If I’m trying to lose weight (which I wouldn’t mind) I should set a target weight, and think about how I can change my diet and exercise to achieve that rather than just say “lose weight” and hope for the best. Second, ambitious goals that aren’t up to me can also lead to disappointment. Nothing against falling in love of course, but what if it doesn’t happen, and here we are nearing the end of the year, can you simply make yourself fall in love with someone just because that was your Resolution?
That said, I have a few goals of my own I’m striving for: Adventuresome Travel, and a Location Independent lifestyle. These aren’t New Year’s Resolutions, and they’re at least another 5-7 years off with many sub-goals along the way (get out of debt, save lots of money, learn a new skill/trade/career path, etc). But it’s important as we set goals, to keep the end in sight, have a clearly defined result, and know what will need to be accomplished to reach that point. Last week, I reorganized my financial budget, time budget, and bookmarks around my newly redefined Goals. For each monetary and time expense I noted what the time/money/effort cost was, and which of my Goals this was contributing to. That way I’m motivated to keep working at it, and if something doesn’t help advance my aspirations, It’s easier for me to recognize that early on.
Do you have any Resolutions? (Try this if you can’t think of any) Have you achieved yours from 2012?