Every year I behave as 40-45% of the rest of the US and make New Year’s resolutions. I always start off with high hopes and high expectations and by April I have usually lost sight of my goals. So, this year I thoughtfully considered the radical idea of NOT making any resolutions this year. After all, each fail I’ve had has been a hit to my psyche, to my own esteem. BUT upon further contemplation I discovered I DO NOT always fail. There is one area I always set goals in and always achieve. My personal area of success is always in the area of personal & home organization. Soooo…….why do I succeed in this one area? The obvious answer is that I am already skilled in certain types of organization, but I think there’s a less obvious answer. When I made my goal every year in organization I didn’t try to radically change myself, my skillset or my life. I do not suddenly decide to be the most organized person, the tidiest housekeeper. Instead I find one area that I am already semi competent in and resolve to make it stronger. I build my skills in small measurable steps that then make it easier to make my next step.
So the question is what can I learn from my strengths so that I can make my weakness strong? I recently read an article on organicgardening.com titled “Making New Years Resolutions” (read the original article. It’s interesting) that gave some tips on setting goals that I felt were really good. They call it SMART.
1.) Be Specific– In the past I have succeeded or failed depending upon how specific I was. For example, several years ago I decided to fold my sheets into packets so that I no longer had to fish for all of my various bottom sheets, top sheets & pillow cases. It was easy to be specific. Every Monday I wash my sheets, so every Monday I fold my sheets into packets. Other goals that I’ve had that have failed have been to lose weight, a common enough goal but I discovered to be too vague. Instead this year I goal to do 30 minutes of YOGA 5-6 days a week. Much more specific.
2.) Measurable- In other words, keep track or have some way of keeping your goal in sight. With my sheets it was rather simple. I would have noticed if I hadn’t folded my sheets into packets. It is a simple VISUAL. So, what about my new goal of doing YOGA? Shall I create a chart? probably? I will also be able to tell in my body if I’m making any changes. I will get stronger, more flexible.
3.) Attainable– The article defines this as within ‘my’ ability. In other words, I shouldn’t try to run a marathon if I can’t even run a block but I CAN run, so I should set up a goal to improve my running. For example: I succeeded in organizing because it was small and simple and within my skill level. It was easy for me to add one new skill to my repertoire per year. For my new Goal of doing YOGA I need to make it attainable. That’s why instead of saying 30 minutes a day I give myself 1-2 days reprieve, because I know I will miss a day. But, I haven’t set the bar so low that I won’t receive the benefits.
4.) Realistic– I find this confusing. How does this differ from attainable? As I understand it, it means that it needs to be attainable by me in the real world I live in. In other words, it might be attainable for me to improve my running but with my bad foot, perhaps it’s more realistic to choose a different type of exercise. Now, I may or may not continue running. I’m simply using it as an analogy. Instead I will bring it back around to YOGA, physically I can do 30 minutes of YOGA per day and know I will not fall apart, additionally I know that setting the bar to 5-6 days IS a challenge but not an extreme one.
5.) Timely– Another way of saying set a TIME LINE. When we give ourselves 12 months to succeed hugely or fail epically there’s a lot of wiggle room. It takes 21 days to create a habit. So, theoretically we could set a new goal every month slightly improving on the first, or main goal. For example: my goal to do YOGA is ultimately a goal for better health. This month I will focus solely on YOGA, on making a habit of doing one thing a day to keep myself healthy. In one month I re-evaluate. That is my goal. Slow, measured improvement.
Now I’m curious. What goals are you setting this year if any? How do you achieve your goals? Spur yourself on? Reward yourselves?