Saturday, January 7

goal-setting: why i hate resolutions

i know we're already a week into the new year... wow, how time has flown! i'm sure many of you have your resolutions already set for the coming twelve months, but i'd still like to talk about resolutions, why you shouldn't have them, & why goals are better! if you already have resolutions, maybe you'll be inspired into turning them into goals. if you don't have resolutions, maybe you'll be inspired to set some goals instead.

i used to set resolutions like anyone else, & i used to break them before the first week was out. my personality is kinda all-or-nothing, gallop-or-stop, A+-or-fail. so, i would set lofty resolutions for being a perfect, new danae. i'm also a perfectionist, a dreamer, & not known for moderation in anything. nor am i known for self-discipline or follow-through... so, you can imagine the cycle of self-defeat that i set up for myself, & i'm sure i'm not the only one who has experienced it. in fact, i think it's the widespread norm to set resolutions that you break before the month of january is over. it's why we have jokes about our only resolution being to not set resolutions.

well, back in 2005, i decided to take a different approach. while i have many failings in being lazy & unrealistic, i do have an insatiable desire to improve myself. i'm not okay with status quo, & i never want to be okay with it. i started thinking about what was wrong with my resolutions that made them fail.

1. they were unrealistic about what i could accomplish in a set amount of time.
2. they were unrealistic about how much effort it would take me to change something about myself.
3. they were unrealistic about my ability to be perfect from day one, january 1st.

first of all & most importantly, i decided to change my perspective about point #3. i decided to create goals instead of resolutions.

these words may seem like synonyms, i know. but they aren't. a goal is "the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end." a resolution is "determining upon an action or course of action, method, procedure, etc." a goal is something you work toward, the desired end product. resolution is something you use to do the work. when we make resolutions, the connotation is that we must be perfect from day one. when we make goals, the expectation is to be better, closer, or have achieved something in the end. this allows for mistakes, for the difficult process of change, for progress, for falling off the band-wagon & getting back on.

i set 12 goals for myself every year, & i generally deem myself successful if i was better at that action or closer to the desired result on december 31st than i was on january 1st. if i set a goal to exercise five times a week, i don't feel like a failure if i don't do this in the first month. it gives me the chance to improve with time. working out one time a week in january is a successful step toward my goal as long as over time it leads to working out five times a week sometime before december. if this had been a resolution & i only worked out one time per week in january, i would have been back on the couch in self-defeat before you could say happy groundhog's day!

maybe this sounds like nothing more than a change in terminology, but it's bigger than that. it's a change in mental attitude, in approach, & in my case, a change in success.

i don't think i've EVER accomplished a single resolution in my life. but i have accomplished lots of goals over the past 6 years. i rarely accomplish all 12, & i'm semi-okay with that. [another goal i have is to accomplish more goals this year than i did last year.]

a change in perspective & approach was critical for me, but i recognize that we still need more than that to get anything done. in the coming weeks, i'll also share how to break goals down into actions, schedule check-ins throughout the year, & various tools that may help you accomplish your goals, too.

so happy new year, & may december 31st find us better versions of ourselves than we are today!

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