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Keep it short and specific: How to accomplish your New Year's resolutions onceand for all
It’s that time again. As the new year begins, it brings with it a blank slate, endless possibilities and, of course, resolutions.
I always get really excited to come up with my resolutions — they set the tone for my year while leading me in the direction I want to go in. Resolutions are really just goals you write down and become accountable for (to yourself and others you wish to share them with). They expire within a year, giving you a time limit of when they should be accomplished, so you already know your deadline.
Resolutions are so simple and yet so powerful: they are just words said aloud or written down somewhere, but you are making the decision to pursue something. It could be as small as learning how to drive a stick shift car or as ambitious as to travel to Eastern Europe for two weeks — it’s up to you to stick with it until you can cross it off your list.
Chances are if you make it a goal to volunteer 15 times you’ll do more than if you just write down “volunteer.”
I hate hearing people bad-mouthing resolutions; I’m convinced that the reason why so many people drop their resolutions by mid-January is because they don’t set them properly.
“Get healthier.” “Be nicer.” “Relax more.” “Drink less.”
While these may all seem like perfectly fine resolutions, they’re not. They are all poorly defined — how can you tell when you’ve reached your goal? How healthy do you want to be? Just how nice is "nicer"? When do you stop relaxing? How many beers are you willing to pass up?
Good resolutions should be largely in your control. If one of your resolutions is to get married on a deserted island in spring of 2012 and you are currently single, then that’s not a good resolution. Unless your plan is to kidnap someone and force them into matrimony, then you’ll need someone else to be able to cross this one off.
You need to be able to accomplish the resolutions by yourself. Resolutions must also be quantifiable; you have to know when you’ve reached your goal. Chances are if you make it a goal to volunteer 15 times you’ll do more than if you just write down “volunteer.”
Bad resolutions are ambiguous and often open-ended, like one of the most popular resolutions: “Get healthier.” If you change that to “Get a gym membership,” “compete in a triathlon,” or “purchase a year worth of CSA boxes,” these are specific actions you can take to become healthier.
The list shouldn’t be too long — you want something you can manage and not stress out about. I like to keep the same number of resolutions as my age, I just turned 27, so I will have 27 goals on my list ranging from learning to tie knots (my fiancé is an Eagle scout and his knowledge of knots both amazes me and leaves me jealous –– what if I need a tautline hitch and he’s not around?), to photographing four new personal projects, to organizing and backing up my countless hard-drives, to reading Ulysses (maybe this year I’ll get through it) to visiting Portland.
I usually like mix in easier goals with a few difficult ones, the easy ones keep me happy and motivated (I like crossing things off lists) and the difficult ones really make me work hard to reach that goal.
Do I always complete all of my New Years resolutions? No way. But do I get a lot more done because of them? Yes.
It’s so easy for time to pass without living the way you want to, without reaching your goals, without doing the things you really want to do but think you can’t. You can. Here’s to the New Year.