New Year's Resolutions: Uses and Excuses

"You'll fail at a 100% of the goals you don't set". - Mark Victor Hansen

Christmas is around the corner, and it blindsided me as it always does.  How is this possible when I haven't worked since Wednesday?  That I don't know.  I did spend a lot of time catching up on appointments, reading, working on this year's handmade presents and watching documentaries on my one month free Netflix account (the world is scandalous, yo!).

 Christmas is, well, Christmas.  Usually it's wonderful and sometimes it's a stress-filled nightmare.  But what I'm really excited for is the week after Christmas.  There's this beautiful lull in my world in between Christmas and the New Year: no work and a lot of time to think.  And to what end does all this thinking lead?  (<--Please read in uppity, nasaly voice in your head...yes, friends, this sentence I DID revamp in order to not end in a preposition...although really we do it all the time, and it's really not a bad thing, but grammar nazis would notice, as they will surely notice this run on sentence.  I <3 linguistics.  And grammar nazis.  <-That phrase dressed as a sentence is for you, from me, with love.  Mmmmk, let's get back on track.)  Where does all this thinking lead?  To New Year's resolutions, of course!

I used to dismiss New Year's resolutions as a waste of time, citing what I'd heard others say...if you want to make a change, you should do it at any time of the year.  I concluded, before ever trying, that resolving to do something at the New Year would ultimately end in failure.  (And by failure, I mean giving up and going back to the old ways.)  Why?  Because that's what I observed happening with my friends, in the media, with the mass numbers of people crowding into my 24 Hour Fitness all of January...only to be back to normal sized herds in a month or two.

Well, that all changed for me about five or six years ago, when I was dating a fellow who was smart, driven, quirky, and who annually sat down, reflected on the last year and wrote New Year's resolutions for the upcoming year.
He invited me to join him that year...which led to me giving him an in-depth interview on why he would spend his time doing this (he was the only person I knew to take this idea so seriously).  He told me that there was a power in writing down what you want to accomplish in the upcoming year.  He found it satisfying to go through and check off the various things he had finished.  It organized his thoughts and kept him moving in a forward motion throughout the year.  His answers more than satisfied my curiosity and silenced my cynical side.  I decided to give it a try.

I remember sitting down and looking at his list from the previous year.  The first thing I noticed was there was a crap-TON of them.  Like a full page or two.  He broke his life up into categories: work, travel, house, etc.  I don't remember all of them, but I remember seeing goals as small as "buy a brown belt" and much larger more amorphous ones about traveling to a few new countries or increasing clients at work.  As he scratched off a couple more of his goals while chatting to me about how great it is to go back and see what you've done in a year, I started to understand the freedom and power in this process.  He was not worried that many of his goals would carry into the New Year.  He could make his goals as personal, small, and achievable, or as lofty and challenging as he desired.  He checked off "buy a brown belt" and looked up at me.  "Ready?" he asked, grinning from ear to ear.  I was.

More abstract, list style resolutions three years ago
In the beginning, I copied his format, breaking my life into smaller categories, and thinking/discussing what I really want in the upcoming year.  Since then, some years take a different shape/feel.  Some years are more amorphous, and some are very concrete.  Every year, I always start by looking back at last year's goals and surprising myself with how many of them I've worked on and/or accomplished, considering I rarely, if ever, look at them throughout the year.  I know without a doubt that writing down your goals and sharing them with someone trusted WORKS.

Although, this smart, funny fellow and I amicably parted ways shortly after New Year's, he was instrumental in my growth and healing at that time.  Traces of his influence and friendship will probably always exist in my mind and my navigation of life, especially around New Year's.  So, thank you Brian, for everything...including making me a New Year's resolution believer.

As personal as this is, I want to pay it forward.  In the style I was shown, so will I share by posting some of my resolutions from years past.  Perhaps some of my ideas will spark some of yours (as ideas often do).  Perhaps you will write down some resolutions this year that you wouldn't have normally.  I do urge you to start the process though.  There is no harm, only awesome, that can come from writing down what you want in life.  

Yeahhhhh buddy!

As I looked over last year's resolutions this morning, I couldn't help but smile.  I had been feeling rather down recently, static, not happy with where I am right now.  I was overwhelmed with a vague sense that  I had accomplished nothing this year...that it had been a year of little to no growth or movement.  When I went over my list this morning and began to check off items, I was proven wrong by, well, me.  By writing down what I desired to accomplish last year, I set a course for myself.  One that, even though I failed to look at this page once in the last 365 days, I succeeded in checking off a large portion of goals.  I'm sold.  Again.

So, after Christmas comes and goes, take some time to sit down with a trusted friend/lovah and some hot, delicious beverages to think and talk about the previous year, celebrate what you've accomplished and write down some goals for the upcoming one.  It will set the tone for your year and might even change your life.

1 comment:

Rob Bell said...

Though I would argue for setting goals, not resolutions, and making sure you check back in sooner than the end of the year.
There are, to borrow a phrase, a crap-TON of resources out there for goal-setting and achieving.
Check out Brian Tracy or the one I'm trying this year Daren Hardy's Living Your Best Year Ever. Investment is more than your average book but if I accomplish or even come close to some of the goals I've set...more than worth it.
So, assuming you already set your '12 resolutions, go back and make them bigger and more audacious and then go get 'em !
See you at Verve...