With the New Year having just passed in our Modern Age of Technology, it is impossible to ignore the endless stream of resolutions claimed by nearly everyone. A quick glance at Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or any of dozens of social media sources, you will find numerous hopes and promises for the coming year. The resolutions range from learning a new skill to pursuing a hobby to the ever recurring desire to live a healthier life.
The resolutions are compounded by the marketplace offering aid that will help you achieve your goals. Fitness gyms fill the commercial gaps of your favorite broadcasts with beautiful people wearing spandex that reveal perfect, tanned abs claiming that you too can have the ideal beach-ready body in time for summer. For a fee, you can quit smoking, eat healthy, earn more money and become smarter. For but a few dollars, you can become a better you and thus – be happier.
The truth: You will fail.
Let me stress that your failure is not a product of some character flaw. You are not weak. You are not inferior. You are simply human and setting a long term goal of self-betterment is not realistic. I’m not saying that having a goal is bad. On the contrary, goals are vital. What is important is creating goals that are within reach. Keep it real.
No. I’m not suggesting you lower your standards and set little goals, either. Ambitious goals give us a destination to strive towards, but no great achievement has ever gone from conception directly to completion. Set a final goal, yet focus on the conditions needed for that goal to be achieved. Perhaps an example:
Goal: Lose fifty pounds
Statistically, overweight individuals who have made a resolution to lose weight have failed an average of six times. Why is this? Simple: life gets in the way. You might join a gym and be pumped up to work out every day. The first day was rough, though. You are sore and need to take a day off before another workout. You decide that maybe every other day at the gym is best. You see a few pounds vanish and get excited. Then something comes up and you can’t go on Monday, so you will just get back to it Wednesday. Missing one day doesn’t matter… until one day becomes a week off. Maybe the weight loss has plateaued and your goal seems impossible. You start to question if there is a point to sweating and being sore when you have nothing to show for it. The gym becomes something you dread. Eventually, you give up. Your body just won’t lose the weight. You stop working out.
This is a common occurrence. This is the only reason gyms often require contracts. A gym can be profitable by charging a monthly fee, but the real money comes from cancelled contracts. They know full well that most people who sign-up for a membership (especially after the first of the year) will give up before the spring thaw. They are counting on it. They expect you to fail and to pay them for a service you aren’t using.
Should you avoid joining a gym? Of course not. Be realistic, though. You probably aren’t going to have time or energy to work out as much as you hope. Having a goal weight is fine, but don’t dwell on it. Instead, concentrate on the act of working out. Even though the pounds aren’t evaporating at an accelerated pace, you are still doing a good thing for your body. If the gym isn’t for you, simply taking a walk is beneficial. You missed a few days or a week? So what? It doesn’t make you a failure. Don’t let your goal defeat you.
This applies to everything. Tried to quit smoking, but gave in and had one after a stressful day at work. That doesn’t mean you have to go back to smoking fulltime. Pick up where you left off. It’s okay to have hiccups along the way. Been counting calories, but was seduced by a piece of chocolate cake? Good for you! You deserve a treat now and again. One stumble doesn’t need to mean failure.
For the New Year, I have decided to try my own approach to resolutions. I really have no idea if it will work, but it’s worth a try. First, I have my “final goals” (which I will tuck away and hope to reach):
~ LOSE FORTY POUNDS
~ QUIT SMOKING
~ FINISH A NOVEL
~ WRITE MORE (NON-NOVEL RELATED)
Ambitious, I know. Having these goals defined, I am going to focus on a list that is manageable:
~ WALK LAPS AROUND MY TRUCK BEFORE AND AFTER EACH DRIVE SHIFT
~ PURCHASE THREE (3) INDIVUALLY WRAPPED SNACKS EACH SUNDAY. ONLY THREE (3) AND ONLY ON SUNDAY. RATION THEM DURING THE WEEK. IF ANY REMAIN COME NEXT SUNDAY, PURCHASE ONLY ENOUGH TO HAVE THREE (3) SNACKS ON THE TRUCK AT ANY GIVEN TIME.
~ REDUCE TOBACCO USAGE BY FIFTY PERCENT EACH WEEK. NEVER HAVE MORE THAN ONE (1) PACK ON THE TRUCK AT ANY TIME.
~ COMMIT TWO (2) HOURS TO MY NOVEL EACH DAY PRIOR TO GOING TO BED.
~ POST A BLOG EVERY SATURDAY CONSISTING OF AT LEAST ONE THOUSAND WORDS.
This list seems doable. Will these items lead to my final goals? Eventually. Might not happen in the next year, but it is a step in the right direction.
I leave you with a mantra that I focus on every day:
There are no big problems. There are only clusters of little problems. Solve the little problems and the big ones will solve themselves.
Thank you for reading and Happy New Year!