Friday, February 01, 2013

Why Feb 1st is when you should make your New Year's resolutions

Many people fall into either one of three categories when it comes to New Year's resolutions. 

There are those who year after year enthusiastically commit to various audacious goals only to experience failure a few months in. The meant well, but it just didn't come together. "Well, if the Cubs can try again next year so can I" is the annual attitude.

There are also those refuse to set resolutions. "No one ever sticks with those. Who wants to feel like a failure?"

And then, similar to the existence of Big Foot, there supposedly is a group of people out there who indeed do keep resolutions. I always wondered if such people were successful because they set goals like, "I'm going to make sure to breath every day this year." But if the resolutions are actually more challenging then this, then I need to meet the Sasquatch so I can ask him what the secret to success is.

To set goals is a good and necessary endeavor, a discipline of the successful and prudent. I'd like to offer the suggestion that maybe the reason some fail at keeping resolutions is tied to when they are made: New Year's Eve. 

Of course December 31st seems like the logical and obvious place on the calendar to make New Year's resolutions. The date lends itself to introspection and forward hope. However, for all of its inspiration toward self-reflection, December 31st isn't a normal day for most people. The holidays are still in progress. Many take part of or the entire day off. School isn't back in session. And even for those who are working the day still feels different. It is in this time and reality vacuum that we set our goals. We realize shortly thereafter once normality kicks back in that we didn't include "the ways things are" with "the ways we hope things will become."

But we are indeed back to normal here on February 1st. Work is back to normal, the semester is in full swing, and all of your holiday decorations have been put away (if your decorations are still up please read THIS). Now is the time to set some goals for the year because now you have a good idea of what your life rhythm looks like. Now you are not in the midst of a slight holiday euforia, now you are back to the daily grind. 

Now is the time to dream a little bit of who you want to be on December 31, 2013. Be realistic. If you have never run half a mile at any time in your life, running a marathon probably wouldn't be very realistic. Possible, yet not entirely probable. Running a 1/2 marathon could work though. Exercising 3x's a week is challenging for the person who hasn't trained since high school, where going every day might be too much. Don't make things too difficult. But at the same time challenge yourself.

I think the worst thing a person could do  is not care about who they are and who they are becoming. To take an honest look at yourself is difficult, but contrary to popular belief difficult things can be good things. The most important things in life are never easy. Becoming who you can and should be doesn't happen by chance. Be intentional to set some goals for the rest of the year and the make a plan to go for it!

Suggestions on making goals:
  • Make only a few. One or two, no more than three. Don't overwhelm yourself.
  • Write them down. And after you do that post them where you can see them.
  • Make them measurable. I'm going to read more this year is too vague. I'm going to read 12 books this year gives you something to evaluate.
  • Make a plan. Don't just make the resolution and then hope it comes true. Figure out what it will take to complete the goal. Who do you need to talk to? What do you need to schedule? What do you need to obtain? 
The Cubs may never win a world series. But their consistency in not being on top has never deterred them from trying (though that may be debatable to some). Don't be a quitter.  Be better at the end of this year. That will only happen if you figure out what that means for you, set some goals, and then go for it.

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