Christmas Break started today and my kids are out of school for the whole Happy Christmas/New Year thing. As usual, I expect to see lots of “New Years Resolutions” popping out of the woodwork. They will more than likely be posted in long lists of things one desires to change about oneself throughout the year and designed to make others feel bad for not posting their own long and exhaustive list. Then the following month (January) will be spent giving it “the old college try” followed by the next month (February) moaning about how one has broken one’s resolutions. The rest of the year, they’re forgotten until the following New Years. Large thanks to Flamingo Dancer for pointing this out. She discusses this distressing phenomenon on her blog.
So, rather than aimlessly complaining about this silliness, I plan to provide a brief tutorial on making goals and keeping them, right here and right now. I call it the New Years Resolution Solution. Here we go!
So, you’ve decided you want to make New Years Resolutions that you actually keep. You want to look back at your list at the end of the year and say, “I kept these! Good on me!” More specifically, you don’t want to join the thundering herd on the internet who seem to think that “New Years Resolutions” are just a fun thing to say. Well, let me show you how to do it.
Step 1. Just make one resolution. Yes, that’s what I said. Just one. It doesn’t make sense to make a list of ten or more goals for the year. You start to feel seriously overwhelmed if you do things that way. Trust me. If you have to change more than just one thing, limit your list to two.
Step 2. Make your resolution long range. So, what’s long range, you ask? I’ll tell you. A long range goal, or resolution, is one that takes a long time to accomplish. Don’t make the mistake of making a short range or mini goal for your resolution. If you decide to jog three miles every day for a year, you’re going to be bored with your goal before the first month is over.
Step 3. Make your resolution doable. There’s no sense in making resolutions that you know you’ll never accomplish. So, don’t say you’re going to visit the moon or anything like that. Make it something you know you can do, even if, as previously discussed, it takes a while.
Step 4. Make your resolution specific. Specific means clearly defined. So, when you decide you’re going to lose some weight, say how much you want to lose. Want to buy a car? Tell the make and model. Want to be in shape? What kind of shape? Be specific!
Step 5. Decide on a dead line. When do you want to have accomplished this resolution? Six months? Eight months? Ten months? Christmas? Next New Years? Again, be specific.
Step 6. Set mid range goals. These goals should be like stair steps helping you reach your resolution. Just like your resolution, these goals should be specific, doable, and have a deadline. So, let’s say you decided to lose a hundred pounds before next New Years Day. Then a reasonable mid range goal leading to this would be to lose a minimum of eight pounds a month (100/12=8.33).
Step 7. Set short range goals. Just like the mid range goals, short range goals should be like stair steps helping you reach your mid range goals. As before, they should be specific, doable and have a deadline. So, staying with our weight loss example from the previous step, remember we decided we were going to try and lose a minimum of eight pounds a month. A reasonable short range goal would be to lose a minimum of two pounds a week. (8.33/4 =2.0825)
Step 8. Set mini goals. As before, a mini goal should be like stair steps helping you reach your short range goals. These should also be specific, doable and have a deadline. However, the difference with mini goals is that they should tell how the short range goals will be accomplished and you should have about three minimum for each short range goal you set. Using our original example, let’s say you decided to lose a minimum of two pounds a week. Four reasonable mini goals to set would be as follows: to visit the local gym three or more times a week, not to miss breakfast at any time during the week, to plan and eat healthy meals during the week, to go for a thirty minute brisk walk every day.
Step 9. Reward yourself. When you accomplish some part of your resolution, even the mini-goals, you need a way to commemorate the victory. Your reward should be as big as the goal you’ve accomplished, but not something that takes away from the accomplishment of your goal. Let’s use our original example again. Let’s say you’ve decided to lose 100 pounds by next New Years Day, by losing a minimum of eight pounds a month, by losing a minimum of two pounds a week, by visiting the local gym three or more times a week, not missing breakfast any time during the week, planning and eating healthy meals during the week, and going for a thirty minute brisk walk every day(gasp wheeze). You need a reward for each level of your resolution. For a mini goal, you might decide to add a special sticker or drawing to your calendar. For a short range goal, you might decide to add a big sticker or drawing to your calendar. For a mid-range goal, you might decide to make a poster celebrating your accomplishment. Then, finally, when you accomplish your resolution, you might decide to buy yourself new clothing (after all 100 pounds will take a good bite out of your waist line). At no time would you decide to celebrate your weight-loss with food.
Step 10. Forgive yourself and get back on track. This is the final step in making resolutions that you intend to keep. Let’s face it, you’re going to mess up! It’s a fact of goal making. There’s going to be a day when you don’t make it to the gym or you miss breakfast or something like that. Also, let’s not forget that there will be some people who will, knowingly or otherwise, try to sabotage you. I know that, when things like this happen, it’s typical to throw in the towel, to just give up. Let me just say this. Don’t! Yeah, you screwed up. So what? Everyone does. Forgive yourself, do a U-turn and pick things up where you left off. This is THE most important step in making a resolution. Why? Because otherwise you get to join the millions upon millions of people making useless “New Years Resolutions.” We don’t want that, do we? Of course, not.
So, that’s my New Years Resolution Solution. However, before I go, I want to include just one more piece of advice. Who says that New Years is the only time you can make resolutions? Resolutions are things we should be making throughout our lives and not just once a year. If you’re intent on improving yourself, New Years is okay for the creation of resolutions, but it shouldn’t be the only time.
Do you plan on making any new goals this year? What do you think of the whole “New Years Resolution” thing? Is there anything you would either add or subtract from the above tutorial?
There’s something else I want to add. In my sidebar, you’ll see a new icon. This is the Company for Christmas badge borrowed from the blog of a friend of jak’s and mine. This will take you to a blog where various bloggers, myself and jaklumen included, have volunteered to give some of our time. Nobody should be alone for Christmas. It’s a time for family. Well, guess what? We’re your family now. If you want to talk with me, I’ve volunteered to be available between 7AM and noon. If you’re physically alone this Christmas, click on that badge and come talk with me. I’ll keep you company.