31 Days After: February 1 Musings on Resolutions

For the most part I’m not a proponent of making New Year’s resolutions.

Resolutions suggest that you will suddenly wake up tomorrow and magically start doing X or stop doing Y.  You stay on the wagon or you fall off. You win or you lose.

Frankly, most of us aren’t designed for the pressures of making resolutions. It’s simply too difficult to suddenly make a behavioral U-turn and start swimming in the opposite direction against a well-established tide. That is, I think, why so many people who make resolutions stumble around, oh, January 6, and never show up at the gym again. Or they inhale a truckload of Fritos and figure they’re doomed to another year of obesity.

Goals, on the other hand, take a longer view. Goals are things that you wish to achieve that need to be taken, perhaps, in steps—a bit at a time. Instead of making a resolution to run a marathon, a better approach might be to have a goal of running a marathon, with steps toward reaching that goal, including activities such as finding a running partner, including two long runs per week in your workout or finding a running coach.

If there are things you wish to do that you can “just do,” such as organizing your office, that is not a goal. It’s something that is on your “to do” list, but it is not a goal.

Why am I musing about all of this a month after it’s all out of the news? Because I am not disheartened. I have goals that are not met, but that doesn’t mean I won’t meet them. In fact, I can point to steps I have taken to meet some of my goals. For other goals, I have only identified the steps that I need to take.

So February 1 is here and if your resolutions are kaput, then maybe you should re-think of them as goals. That can be your first step.

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