The new year has arrived, and with it many a resolution has been made, and quickly broken. I thought I would take this time to discuss my personal goals and my philosophy regarding them.
First off, you’ll notice I use the term “goal” as apposed to “resolution." There are countless posts and studies on why you should set specific goals instead of resolutions and as you could probably guess, I’m a big fan of this approach. I’m detail and data oriented by nature, so it also just happens to fit in with my personality better.
The gist is to set a specific goal for the year. Instead of saying “Lose weight,” say “Lose 25lbs.” If you want to focus on financials, instead of “Pay down debt,” maybe try “Pay off credit card X” or “Pay down 25% of outstanding debt.” Sometimes you may need to think about it a bit before you come up with the metric. Take “Learn Spanish,” for example. At first glance this seems like a hard one to pin down. Most apps that you’ll use to learn a language these days though conveniently have metrics built right in. Try “Finish the Spanish tree on DuoLingo.”
Now, once you’ve set your goals you'll want to be able to track your progress. There are myriad approaches - just find one that works for you. It can be as simple as a notebook, or use one of those apps that helps gamify your goals (I’m personally a fan of habitica).
When you have a specific goal it makes it easy to evaluate your progress. If your goal was to lose those 25lbs, that translates to a little over two pounds a month. At the end of each month check on your progress and see how you’re doing.
When you check in on your goals you can modulate your efforts. If at the end of February you’re down 3lbs, that’s progress, but means you should probably step up your game if you want to meet your goal for the year. Also, remember these are goals - it’s always acceptable (within healthy limits) to surpass your goals!
One last note on goals vs resolutions. Something that resolutions have going for them is the implication that they last more than just the year. The resolution to eat healthier is, you hope, an attitude shift in your life going forward, and you don’t dive head first into the candy aisle come next New Year. With the goal method, you just recycle your goals. Every year I set a number of books I want to read. Instead of “read more” I set a number of books I want to hit each year.
Since we’re already on the subject, let’s check out my goals for the year:
- Read 25 books
- Finish reading books by Tolkien
- Get caught up on magazines
- Read at least 750 comics
- Reach 175lbs
- Launch (secret R&P project)
- Start learning bladesmithing and complete at least a dozen blades.
These are not the only things I want to accomplish this year, but these are the ones I’m focusing on as “official new years goals.” Even though there’s plenty more I plan to do, I like to keep a relatively short list of things I’m committing to doing.
Your goals should enrich your life - you don’t want to have so many that trying to keep up with everything actually makes things worse for you! That would completely defeat the purpose, and is a leading cause of people not actually following through.
This is what I’m hoping to have accomplished come January 1st 2018. In future posts I’ll be taking that advice of checking in to share with all of you my progress. Here’s to getting things done and making our personal lives a little better this year!