My New Year's resolutions list starts like this, “This year I will definitely fail at the following ...” So this year I did not make any resolutions. I figured, if I don’t make them, I can’t fail at keeping them. Problem solved! It turns out that not trying something for fear of failing just expedites the process of feeling like a loser. This got me thinking about strategies to turn the yearly lose-lose resolutions into win-wins.
The first thing that needs to be done is clean house. This is a metaphor; I hate cleaning, which is why I still have a fully furnished hedgehog home in my basement when the rodent died eight years ago. What I mean is, get rid of those old resolutions you vow to keep each year but never do or are no longer meaningful. If you resolve to lose 10 pounds year after year and never make it, forget it and embrace your fluffy self. Concentrate on goals — and that’s what resolutions are — that you are serious about, and go for it in a way that will help you be successful.
For three weeks after the new year, I can’t get a parking space at my gym. Working out is such a popular resolution, but so many people throw in their sweaty towel after only a few weeks. Why? What they most likely do is decide they are going to the gym every day for an hour or two and can’t keep it up, so they miss a day, then two, then a week ... and voila, I have a prime parking space again.
A much more realistic goal is to decide on three days a week, pick specific days and times based on your schedule, and then pick an enjoyable activity to keep you motivated. If you hate to run, don’t do the treadmill or you will spend your whole day dreading your workout. Find some friends who may have the same goal and make plans to meet at the gym. People who have a good plan and a good support system in place are much more likely to meet their goals.
Right after winter break, when my students go back to school, we do goal setting for the second semester. Most of them have the tendency to set goals they likely will not attain such as straight A’s, maximum honors, begin studying for tests three weeks in advance, etc.
Although it’s good to have high aspirations, diving into the deep end of the pool on your first try isn’t the way to achieve them. I encourage my students to set reachable goals. So, if a student currently has a D in physics, the goal for the next quarter should be to raise it to a C, not an A, not yet anyway. Small successes boost confidence and lead to bigger successes. Once the goal is set, we can put together a plan of action.
There is an easy step-by-step goal-setting procedure which I use with my students, but can be applied to anything in life that you may want to accomplish. I will address it next week and help get you on your way to winning the resolution game.