Thursday, January 19, 2012

New Year's Non-Resolutions

I don't make New Year's Resolutions. Why? Because I am willing to bet that 90% of the 'I'm finally going to lose weight and get in shape" worker-outers who flock to the gym January 2nd will be greatly less enthusiastic by February 2nd. Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that people want to lose weigh, get in shape, eat healthy, fill in your resolution here. But I don't make New Year's Resolutions for one simple reason - I won't keep them. I know this before I make them. I haven't kept them in 32 years, why would that change now? (minus some life altering news or something that would inspire change regardless of the time of year.)

I'm a business owner, a planner, an organizer, a life long self-improvement junky; I was a psychology minor in college. I'm constantly trying to improve and grow, year round. Suddenly deciding on the last day of the year that next year is going to be the year for x, y, z gives me a ton of motivation.... for about a week, maybe two. I'd venture to guess that's the same with many resolutioners. After all, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, right? Here's why: life happens. It gets "in the way". Maybe you get sick and physically cannot go to the gym. Maybe your finances change and you can't take that trip, start that project, take that new position that you planned on. It's understandable and it's the reason I don't make resolutions.

Instead, I'm much more boring. I make goals. I write them down, the good old pencil and paper/sticky note way. (I'm also a list-making junky).  I break them down into smaller steps. I make sure to add a place to check off when I've completed each step. Doesn't it feel good to cross things off your list?

Then I tell someone, several people, anyone that will listen. Why? Because then others hold you accountable. When you swear to 10 different people that you're going to go to the gym and run on the treadmill 3 days a week for the next 6 months, it's a lot tougher to face them with excuses (this was not, by the way, my goal; it's just a classic example). It sounds silly, but it's true. Important, here, is that I tell the right people - those that I know will actually ask me about my goals and not let me make excuses, at least not many. I figure at least one of them has to call me out on it!

I make a spectrum of goals. I know everyone these days seems to be into "living in the moment", "going with the flow". That's all well and good with smaller, day to day things, but with more important issues it begs the question: where do I want to go/be/do? If I have no intermediate and long-range goals, the minute my "in the moment" plan gets a kink in it, I don't know what to do. And by "I", I mean me, you, humans (and possibly other intelligent living beings) in general. Try telling your boss you didn't get the project done because you were going with the flow and the flow was all going to happy hour. How'd that go over?  You have to have long range goals, because you may need to adjust the smaller ones in order to get you where you want to go when life happens.

I put a date next to each step, and the ultimate goal. Furthermore, I tell people this date - once again, accountability. Then, I treat this date like a deadline from a boss, a homework assignment, the TV program I absolutely couldn't miss for anything (for the record, I have none of these), whatever will motivate me not to ignore it. Then, I go ahead and do what I need to do to make those deadlines.

Finally, I make sure I'm serious about my goals and that there aren't too many of them. Not everything is a goal. "I want to get a new pair of red heels" is not a goal - it's a shopping list item, or maybe a gift list item. But it's not a goal. Otherwise, the importance of goals gets diluted, which is often when makes it feel ok to make excuses.

So, all this said, what are my goals for this year?  Well, I said I tell people, so here I go:

1. I've created a workout plan for myself, with a tracking sheet to check off my workouts and make myself stick to the plan/goal. I'm happy to show it to you if you'd like to see. Ultimately, I want to ride and complete the MS 150 bike ride this fall, and just get back into my overall health pattern.

2. I want to get back into yoga and meditation at least twice a week. These are also included on the tracking sheet above.

3. I am going to focus on the social media and blogging end of my business much more. I've got details written down on this. They're more specific but too long to write here, but they're recorded.

4. I'm going to spend more time with my friends. I've been a bit of a loner the last few months.

5. Well, this one I can't tell you, but I promise you that several people know. :-)

So there you have it. My New Year's Non-Resolutions. What are yours? How are you doing with them?