I am a planner. Always have been.
The only thing I enjoy more than getting stuff done is making extensive lists of things I PLAN to get done.
For a chronic list-maker like me, this time of year is pure joy: The New Year gives you a blank slate, ready to be filled up with tasks and plans and, of course, the inevitable New Year’s resolutions.
Only I don’t call them resolutions. I call them New Year goals instead because, to me, goals are positive things that you strive to achieve, whereas the word resolution seems to imply that something is wrong with you and needs to be fixed.
I may be flawed, but I’m not broken, and I DON’T need fixing. But I DO have goals. Lots of them.
The problem is, I have a tendency to overestimate the amount of stuff I can realistically get done. Sure, I’m a pretty productive person. This year, just as an example, my goal was to read at least 75 books. I read 110. I’m no slouch. ????
But sometimes I have a little TOO much faith in my ability to radically (and instantly) improve my life.
I remember, back when I was about 50 pounds overweight, setting a New Year goal to lose those 50 pounds within 6 months—and then having to set the exact same goal the following year (only now it was 60 pounds because instead of losing the weight, I’d gained even more!).
There’s something to be said for “slow and steady wins the race,” especially for weight loss and fitness, and when I finally eased up on myself and stopped focusing on the number on the scale, setting goals for exercise and nutrition instead, I lost the weight and kept it off.
Unfortunately, my brain never got the memo that I should probably be using the same technique I used for weight loss in the rest of my goal-setting life, which means I still tend to overreach.
This past year, I set a total of 22 goals for myself (which, I’m sorry to say, was actually my attempt to improve upon 2016’s disastrous 45 goals, few of which I achieved!).
Among those 22 goals were the obvious things, like maintaining my weight, running at least 20 miles a week, doing more yoga, reading more books, and forcing myself out of my hermit-like existence to connect with friends and family now and then.
I can objectively say that I achieved 16 of my 22 goals for 2017, and I can’t decide if that’s good or bad. It’s more than half, better than average, but still, I can’t help feeling a little bit like a big fat failure.
And so, for 2018, I’m taking a cue from weight-loss me (as opposed to crazy list-making me) and putting one goal at the top of my list: to be kinder to myself.
This year, I’ll try to be more realistic, using everything I’ve learned from my many years of setting (and achieving—or failing to achieve) goals.
I’ll follow the age-old advice to make my goals SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant/realistic, and time-bound.
I’ll stick to the big things I really want to do, the things that make me happy, instead of burdening myself with extra work when I know I’m already much too busy.
And I won’t put “Meditate daily” on my list (for the fourth year in a row), because it’s about time for me to face the fact that I have monkey mind and I’ll just never one of those peaceful people enjoying enlightenment in the lotus position—and that’s okay. There are other ways to become enlightened, and I’ll find mine eventually.
This year, I will put myself first and I’ll be proud of every little victory, no matter how silly it might seem to someone else. These New Year goals are for me and only for me.
And that is okay, too.
Wishing you all a happy, healthy, and goal-filled New Year!