Oh look, it’s that time of year again.
“I’m going to read more in the new year!”
“I resolve to be healthier and happier this year.”
“In 2018, I’m going to be more organized.”
And so forth.
Time for those typically vague New Year’s resolutions that never really get fulfilled to be made once more. I’ve made more than my fair share of these, and I’m sure you have too. It’s common…and absolutely self-defeating.
In fact, for 2017, I totally gave up on New Year’s resolutions because I knew that I wasn’t going to really follow through past the second week of January. I didn’t want to face another year of unfulfilled resolutions and well-meaning but empty promises to myself to do better.
So this year, I’m going a slightly different route.
I’m making goals instead of just resolutions.
It doesn’t really sound like there’s a difference between the two. After all, I’m sure some of your resolutions in the past had some kind of goal to them– yet probably still remained unfulfilled by the time December rolled around again. However, the kind of goals and resolutions I’m talking about are vastly different, and could make the difference between success and disappointment for your New Year.
Unfortunately, resolutions are empty, out-in-the-air words of promise to yourself. Such as, “I’m going to be better this year,” or “I want to eat healthier in the new year,” etc. They often have little meaning. What does “better” mean? What does it look like in practical, every day life? And what do you mean by “healthier?” Ten pounds less? Ten pounds more? Eating all kale and ditching donuts forever? (Yikes.)
Don’t make resolutions. They’re vague and often our subconscious way of giving ourselves an excuse to not fulfill the promises we made to ourselves on January 1st.
Example – you said you want to be healthier in the new year. But your friends decide to have a party two weeks into January, and they decide to bring cake. You’ve been doing pretty good at avoiding junk food… but you just said you wanted to be healthier, right? You have to have a cheat day to really be healthy, right? Isn’t that what the experts say?
So you cave. You get the piece of cake. And maybe a second. You might even take home a piece and eat it the next day, too. Soon your resolution to be “healthier” is covered in great-sounding excuses and arguments about why mental health is important too and how two more donuts contribute to your overall mental health, of course.
Aaaand… December comes around and you cringe a little more as you step onto the scale.
The cycle begins again.
See why it’s destructive? Surely I’m not the only one guilty of self-justification when it comes to New Year’s resolutions.
So what’s the real difference between GOALS and RESOLUTIONS?
Goals have actionable, 1-2-3 steps that you can take, a destined end that you can achieve. Usually, resolutions have little to no practical, real-life application. Goals do. Goals say, “This is what you want, and THIS is how and when you can get it.”
If you want to be healthier, don’t just “be healthier.” Make a plan. Find a date, and set a number of how many pounds you want to lose (or gain) by that time frame. Maybe it’s a special occasion–say a friend’s wedding or a marathon you want to train for. But don’t just set a date–make a plan for every week up to that date.
More importantly, make sure to form a plan YOU CAN FOLLOW.
Goals are absolutely pointless if you can’t follow the path to reach them. Don’t promise yourself you can climb Mount Everest if your ability limit is hiking the nearest hill. That means…don’t promise yourself you’ll do 100 push-ups every day if you know you aren’t going to do it. Don’t make a plan of saving $100 every week if you know that’s out of your budget. Etc, etc. Goals have to be practical for a reason.
If you make a goal, you have something you can attain, something you can reach. A resolution may or may not ever get fulfilled–and likely won’t get fulfilled unless you have some insane determination and motivation that somehow lasts the entire year. If that’s you, congrats.
But for the rest of us, more than likely, your New Year’s promises and resolutions are going to be ones that require dedication and commitment, discipline and some out-of-comfort-zone reaching. If you’re actually wanting to fulfill those promises to yourself –whether that’s reading more, being healthier, getting more organized, whatever– you aren’t going to do it by making empty resolutions.
When the sluggishness of February hits and the busyness of March sweeps you off your feet, you’re going to need a rock-solid plan to carry you through.
To show you what I mean, I’ll share with you the goals that I’ve made for this year. So far there are only five, but I may add more before the New Year arrives.
And though this list says “goals” for 2018, right now all of these are simply resolutions until I make a definite plan for each one of them, and set a time frame for them to be completed.
So here we go.
1. Read more classics.
PLAN: I want to read at least 1 book every two weeks. I know that with my school schedule, it could take me a while to get through one novel, especially if it’s long. To accomplish this, I’m going to set aside thirty minutes (attainable) every night before bed to read.
TIME FRAME: This one doesn’t necessarily have a specific time frame that could be applied to it, but I do have a long list of books that I want to read before the year is over! When the list is entirely crossed off, I will have reached my goal.
*I’m including my list of books I want to read in my e-mail newsletter this week. If you aren’t signed up, go and hit that subscribe button!
2. Get 1-2 side jobs.
PLAN: Since again, I have a part-time job already and a full college schedule, this one will be dependent on what jobs I can find. My goal is to find a few babysitting/house-sitting jobs that could be some extra income toward paying my college tuition (…and maybe helping out with all the Chipotle/Chinese food that I eat, too. Ahem.) I’ll begin searching online and asking around after my classes start the second week of January.
TIME FRAME: I definitely want to have at least 1 extra job by the end of January. If I have a side job by January 31st, I will have reached my goal.
3. Finish my book.
PLAN: I have a lot of editing and re-writing that needs to be done, so I want spend thirty minutes three times a week working on my book. At this point, it looks like I’ll be able to do Monday, Wednesday, and Friday–and my thirty minutes will be either right before or right after lunch time.
TIME FRAME: I want to publish my book by the first week of June!
4. Blog consistently!
PLAN: I know that this past year, I was very sporadic about posting on my blog. This goal will again, depend on how busy my schedule will be. 2018 already looks like it’s going to fill up fast. However, my definite goal is that I want to post once a month at minimum. To do this, I’m going to plan out future posts in my planner, and work on them piece by piece during my free time.
TIME FRAME: If I’ve posted once a month or more, by December I should have at least 12 new posts that have been published in 2018! Hopefully this number will go up and I’ll be able to write more often. 🙂
5. Walk/run regularly.
PLAN: I want to go on a regular walk/run at least three times a week. Since again, my schedule isn’t concrete yet, these could be any three days out of the week. Also, each time I go for a walk or run, it should last between 20-30 minutes. And since I’m not a morning person, I’ll be walking and running in the evenings.
TIME FRAME: Unfortunately, it will be more difficult to judge a time frame for this one since I don’t really have a goal for pounds that I want to lose or miles I want to walk. However, if I’m walking and running consistently by March, hopefully I will have formed a habit and that part of my goal will have been accomplished.
Bonus tip: Tell someone about your goals! If you’re simply telling yourself all of these things, you probably will still find excuses and reasons to not fulfill your goals. But if you tell someone and they can check up on you every now and again, you will be much more likely to reach and fulfill your goals. Not only have I published my goals online for all of you to see, I’ll also have my mom keep me accountable. 😉
Also, make sure you can see your goals frequently. Maybe write them on your mirror. Right now mine are on a sticky note on my desk and on the home screen of my computer. Wherever you put them, make sure you keep them always in front of you for at least the first few months of the year so you’re constantly reminded of what you want to accomplish.
Sound like a lot of work?
It probably is. But often our New Year’s resolutions are ones that require us to change some part of our lives and our habits. And that’s no easy task. Change requires definite action, so if the “changes” you have in mind sound like too much work, make your changes ones that are attainable for you. Make them so they fit you and your abilities, like I mentioned earlier.
I hope 2018 is your best year yet. 🙂
What are some of your goals/resolutions for this year? And how are you going to accomplish them? Comment below and let me know!
◊ XO ~ Kristel ◊