I’ve never been a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions. All too often, people make resolutions for the year, with big intentions and a heart-felt commitment to achieve their goals, but then after a few months the passion fizzes and the resolution fades away.
I’ve been guilty of this so many times in my life. In the past I’ve started the new year with a commitment to work out more and get fit, to eat less junk food, to save more money, to read more books, to change habits and become a new “me.”
We all mean well, I think. We want positive change in our lives and in ourselves. We want to be better, to grow, and to feel the satisfaction of achieving our goals.
But meaning well isn’t always enough, and for so many of us the desire to change is quickly overpowered by our tendency to resort to what’s comfortable. It’s too easy to slip back into the way we’ve always been, or the way we’ve always done things. And before long, no matter how committed we were to our goals, we forget about them. We put them off and think, “We have plenty of time.” And then December 31st comes and we decide to try again.
I don’t say all this to be gloomy or demoralizing. And, of course, this doesn’t apply to every person and every resolution.
But the reality of these experiences in my own life have led me to change how I approach the beginning of a new year.
Instead of declaring a “resolution” and simply stating something that I want to see happen, I focus on creating realistic goals, along with a plan for how I’m actually going to achieve them.
I have a note in my phone where I’ve listed a few goals for myself in this new year. I’ll let you know what these are: In 2022, I want to accomplish these four tasks –
- Train for and run a 5k (starting small, then maybe next year I’ll work my way up to a bigger race!)
- Pay off my truck (I’m only a few months away!)
- Become proficient at playing the bass guitar (I’ve just recently started the learning process.)
- Read and finish 5 books this year (this is far more realistic, considering my time constraints with work, family, grad school, and time for fishing!)
These goals are a bit more specific than simply saying something like, “I want to learn a new skill”, or, “I want to develop a new hobby,” or even, “I want to get out of debt.” Being specific is the key and the first important step. Resolutions tend to be vague. Specific goals written down somewhere tend to pull us back to the exact thing we want to accomplish. Then, once the goal is specified, we develop a plan of action. How are we going to accomplish this goal? How is this “resolution” going to become a reality in our lives this year?
In order to train for a 5K I’m going to set aside time to run three times a week, working my way up to 3 miles each time.
In order to pay off my truck I’m going to budget carefully and discipline myself to pour money on the loan as much as I can.
In order to become a proficient bass guitarist, I’m going to make myself practice at least 30 minutes each evening, watch YouTube videos to learn skills and theory, and study music in my free time whenever I get a chance.
Then, in order to meet my goal of reading 5 books, I’m going to create a reading list, order the books I want to read, and set aside time each day to read for at least 15 minutes.
The really cool thing is that, in the process of working towards these goals, more vague and general “resolutions” will be achieved. Training for a 5K will lead to me eating better and exercising, which will make me healthy and get me in better shape.
Reading books will increase my knowledge, which will help me to learn new things.
Paying off my truck will lead to me having better control over my finances, will foster greater self-discipline, and will help me to develop a greater appreciation for saving money and living debt-free.
Being specific is always going to be better and more impactful than making vague resolutions and wishfully declaring things you want to see happen in your life and in yourself.
So, as this year draws to a close and the new year begins, let me encourage you to think a little more deeply about the things you want to accomplish this year.
Grab a pen and paper, or open an app on your phone and jot down some specific, actionable goals that you will realistically accomplish this year. And then, make a list of things you’ll need to do each month, each week, or each day in order to achieve those goals, along with a time frame for when you want to have reached them.
Starting the new year with a plan will help you move forward into this year with confidence, commitment, and hope for your future. And that’s an incredible way to begin a new season of life.