New Year’s resolutions within reason

Even after you learn the 8 Simple Rules to Hitting Your Goals, it’s time to break the cycle of failed New Year’s resolutions by starting on the right foot.

By James Parker Sheffield

THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT THE changing of a calendar that brings out the “New Year, New Me” thoughts. We weren’t good enough in the last year, but we’re committed to change this year.

We. Are. Going. To. Crush. It.

Those six-pack abs, that higher paying job, and a new husband are just around the corner. We are going to be so hot for the 2017 Joining Hearts Pool Party! Oh! Maybe that’s where we’ll meet our new husband!

January is all about business. We feel good about it.

Then there’s February.


WE OFTEN FORGET ABOUT February. It’s shorter than the other kids, and once every four years, it rambles on longer than it should. February is when writing the correct date on paperwork becomes easier, but remembering promises to ourselves becomes more difficult. There’s plenty of time to go to the gym… next week.

Fast forward to June, when resolutions are distant memories and we begin daydreaming about next year. Everything will be so much better then, because we’re going to work really hard. Our dedication will rival that of Leo DiCaprio letting a bear attack him, so he could finally win an Oscar.

If none of this sounds familiar, because you’re a robot and champion of life, feel free to stop reading. However, if you’re a human and tired of this brand of “wash, rinse, repeat,” here’s some perspective: Our New Year’s resolutions are only as achievable as we make them.

Ah yes, that terrible truth that success requires work (yuck), patience (I want it now), and being at least somewhat pragmatic (so basic). Ugh. Am I right?

Most of us have an understanding of what it means to work and to be patient, even if we don’t enjoy doing either. When it comes to broken resolutions, lack of being pragmatic is the likely culprit behind our failures. Without even realizing it, we shoot ourselves in both feet before we even reach the starting line.

BUT DON’T FRET CHILDREN. There’s a simple fix and it only involves a small amount of homework.

Ask three questions about Each Resolution:

Is this a specific action item?

For instance, “Lose 100lbs” is not a specific action item. That’s a goal that requires lots of action items to accomplish. To achieve at high levels, list all possible things that could help reach the overall goal, then pick a few things off the list and make those items your actual resolutions.

Could I really accomplish this within a year?

Be really honest about what you’re capable of. For example: Mark and John would both like to be more politically active in 2017. Currently, Mark’s email signature includes his preferred pronoun,s and he did some canvassing during the election. John asked “When is voting day?” while showing off his new “Nasty Woman” t-shirt at the office holiday party.

It’s reasonable for Mark’s resolution to be something like, “Volunteer for a Capitol Lobby Day,” but John may want to start with something along the lines of “Locate news networks on my cable channel guide: Watch.”

Why am I doing this?

Seriously. Why are you doing this? Resolutions that are about anything other than something you really want for yourself are generally doomed. If you’re getting a personal trainer, because that cute barista only talks to the fit boys, well… We’ll look forward to seeing you at the Colonnade in a few weeks. There are just some resolutions that shouldn’t be on your list to start with. Asking why will help eliminate those items.

In contrast, if your resolution is to quit smoking, because you don’t like the way it makes you feel, it’s too expensive, and your doctor says it’s killing you, you’re likely to at least give it an honest Boy Scout try.

Creating change is hard, especially when it comes to bad habits or an issue we’ve struggled with for years. Being clear about why you’re doing it can help provide motivation to reach the finish line.

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