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New Year’s Resolutions

December 30, 2015

I used to make New Year’s resolutions. I’d make ’em and break ’em.  I don’t do that anymore. I set yearly goals, instead.

What’s the difference?  Attitude.

A new year’s resolution is something you think about in the back of your mind, but don’t really intend to do. Yeah, it’d be nice to do this, but you have other things to worry about.  For example: This year you’ll quit smoking… but you don’t sit down and figure out how to do that. You just hope that because you said you’d quit, and you start your wishing on January 1st, it will magically happen.  It won’t.  If you make a new year’s resolution and you don’t immediately succeed, you say, “Oh well, blew it again this year” and let it go till next year.

New year’s resolutions are often a setup for disappointment.

How are goals different? Goals are like business plans.

You have a goal. You sit down and examine what has kept you from your goal so far.

What behaviors are affecting your success or lack thereof? How will you change those behaviors?  What steps can you take?  Which steps have worked in the past toward your goal, and which haven’t?

Remember!  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.

What time frames and deadlines will you apply to your goals?

What will you do to get back on track when you screw up? Because you will screw up.  Change is hard.  You have to work at it. Assume that you will screw up to a certain extent, and then it won’t be so devastating as to make you quit trying.

This is how serious people make plans.

Make goals that are attainable. Reasonable. Within reach.  None of this “I’m going to lose 100 pounds this year”.  This goal is too big and too vague.  Can some people do this?  Sure, but most would find it impossible. Don’t set yourself up for failure.

First, do your homework.  What are the diets that are out there, and how much scientific evidence is there to back up each one’s validity.  Choose carefully, because it’s much easier to lose muscle than it is to lose fat. Make sure that your diet is sustainable long term. You want to stay healthy or there’s really no point in dieting.

Next make small goals that will help you get to the bigger goals.  Try, “I’m going to cut sugar out of my diet in January”.  “I’m going to cut out starches (potatoes, rice, etc.) in February.”

Make goals for your personal life.  Make goals for your business life.  You can do more than one thing at a time, as long as your goals are reasonable. Remember when you were in school and studied five subjects all in the same week?  Sure, you didn’t have a job then, or kids running around your ankles, but if you’re really serious, you will find an hour a day to work on a project or two.

In the first quarter of this year, I’m getting the website for my new business up and running.  What kept me from getting it done last year?  I wanted to do it myself and I don’t know anything about websites!  Talk about a recipe for procrastination!  So, I will do my homework and investigate what to look for in a web designer and management company and hire someone to build my website.  Notice this is a project that is manageable and I’ve given myself a deadline in which to complete my task.

I’m going to work my body better than last year.  I know from experience that my body feels better when it is strong and flexible.  I enjoy weight lifting and have been doing it for ten years or more.  I have added some yoga and stretching to keep myself limber as I age.  Last year, my biggest workout problem was consistency.  So, I won’t say “I will be at the gym every morning at five a.m., or I have failed”.  No, I say, “I will aim at being at the gym every morning, but most likely I will make it three or four days a week. Three or four days a week consistently will still be an improvement over last year.” My body will love me for it.

Neither of these goals needs to get in the way of the other.  They are both reasonable and attainable.  And since one of them should be finished by the end of the first quarter, I can add other goals for later in the year.

New Year is a time for re-evaluation.  For renewal.  For progress.  When you set reasonable goals and accomplish them, they give you satisfaction, self-confidence, and determination to keep moving forward.  They enrich your life.  Not only do you get things done, accomplishment has a delightful side effect:  Happiness.

Happy New Year!

—E. A. Cooke




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