That made me think, why do some people do that? One reason, I think, is because of the New Year’s Resolution. Of course you might say “new year resolution”, but that wouldn’t be grammatically correct. New Year’s Resolution is a pretty common saying, and yields over 159 million hits on Google.
But I’m talking about resolutions here, not grammar. Unless of course your resolution is to improve your grammar. Anyway, what makes an awesome resolution, and what makes our resolutions fail?
For the failures, maybe it’s the possessive ‘s in New Year’s Resolution that is to blame. Maybe, if the resolution belongs to the New Year, then it does not belong to you. Maybe, if that’s true you might be less likely to own it and follow through.
In fact, this supports another theory I have. If you always wait for January 1st to actually resolve to do something, are you really resolved?
Perhaps what you need to do is have a resolution revolution. In other words, don’t tie yourself to a date to start.
Last year, just before Christmas 2016 I decided I was drinking too much soda. I thought, “On January 1st, 2017 I’m going to give up soda.”
Um….no. That’s not going to work. Two problems hit me. One, giving up soda is a big change. And two, why will it work in two weeks if I can’t see myself doing it today?
So I decided on something different. I decided that day to stop buying soda at work. Now. And it worked (mostly). In the last year, I haven’t used the soda fountain in the cafeteria for anything but water. Of course, I have struggled a few times and had an occasional soda when I eat lunch out. And I still have soda sometimes on Sat/Sun. But weekends weren’t a part of the resolution.
But by just deciding to do it then and there, and allowing myself a little leeway by taking an exception at lunch every week or two, I was able to cut way back on my soda consumption.
In May of 2017, I decided I wanted to take up swimming. Over the first few months, it was tough to find time to make it out more than 2-3 times a week. Plus it takes time to recover when you start a new program. It wasn’t until October that I consistently swim 5 or more times a week. And my biggest gains have come in Nov/Dec.
These examples lead me to a couple of lessons that have helped me during 2017, and might help you in 2018:
- Don’t resolve to start on some far off future date. If you can’t see yourself doing it now, or in the next few days, then you likely won’t do it in the future.
- Don’t resolve to fix everything with one resolution. “I’m going to get in shape, quit smoking and learn Chinese in 2018!!!” is a recipe for disappointment. Try to make a change you can adapt to, like working out twice a week. Then adjust the goal as your able to.
- Don’t brag about your resolution. I know some people tell you to share your plans so others can keep you accountable. For that, it’s good to include a couple of people in your goal. But telling the world (i.e. Facebook) about your plans creates a lot of unneeded pressure. Less than 5 people knew about either of my changes in the examples I gave.
That’s it… don’t wait, don’t overdo it, and don’t brag. Own it!
As far as some guidance on how to write effective goals, even if it’s – gasp – January 2nd or later, my friend Dr. Julie Connor wrote an excellent post on How to Write Awesome new Year’s Resolutions. Check it out.