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One the first questions people typically ask around the first of the year, right after "Did you stay up to watch the ball drop?," is "Have you made any resolutions?" This year I'm proud to answer no to both questions. The first because I'm finally old enough to be convinced that the ball will drop and the New Year will begin whether or not I'm watching it and the second because I don't want to set myself up to fail.
I cringe every time I turn on the T.V. this time of year and see commercial after commercial for weight loss programs, gyms and medications to help smokers quit. These ads prey on people's insecurities and count on them throwing dollars after something that is really hard to change. In another month or two, I'll start hearing people jokingly say "Well, that New Year's resolution went out the window with the Valentine's Day chocolate!"
Maybe that sounds pessimistic, but it's not meant to. I've never liked to make resolutions for the new year. Resolutions are so absolute, so black and white and not always something that can be achieved. In fact, it was my friend and colleague Rachel Gurevich's blog post, Two Resolutions You Should Not Make This Year, that started me thinking about why I don't resolve to abstain from or accomplish (insert resolution here) this year.
Rachel's area of expertise is infertility, so her thoughts were pretty specific (don't resolve to get pregnant and don't resolve to get healthier in some way in order to get pregnant), but her explanation certainly is able to be generalized and very close to my own reasons. In a nutshell, if you resolve to do something that is not within your control, you're going to fail. And, if you resolve to do something in order to make the uncontrollable more controllable, you will also fail.
So, this year I resolved not to make resolutions. I thought about author of The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin's idea of choosing one word to shape your year, but it wasn't quite right for me. Instead, I've made goals and objectives.
Goal #1: Stop renting and buy a home within the next 3 years.
- We will obtain copies of credit reports and look them over for any errors or items that need to be addressed.
- We will address any items on our credit reports that might impede us in getting a low-interest, affordable mortgage.
- We will set aside a portion of each paycheck in a separate savings account to save for a down payment.
- We will try not to touch said savings account and find other ways to fund unexpected expenses such as car repair, etc.
Looks pretty manageable, doesn't it? The key is laying out the steps of how to get to what you want. Saying, "I want to lose weight" is overwhelming, but saying, "I'm going to walk for 10 minutes a day and eat one healthier meal per day" breaks it down into less overwhelming pieces. And, if you fail to walk 10 minutes one day, you haven't ruined your goal or thrown it out the window, because you can start again tomorrow.
That's what I want this year to be about, the ability to start again tomorrow without feeling as though I've failed before I've even begun. If I were making resolutions this year, that would be number one on my list. Perhaps I'll make it a goal instead. So, I challenge you to look at your year differently. What goals will you set and how do you plan to accomplish them?