My friend Brooke shared her New Year’s goals on her blog the other day and it was as I crafted a comment for her post that I started thinking about why I eschew New Year’s resolutions in favor of goals.
I think this is why: A year is a long time. A lot can change, from jobs, to health, to living circumstances, to obligations. I think it’s prudent to avoid picking fights I can’t win (one of my favorite parenting axioms, actually) and, as such, refuse to set myself up for failure.
Why make a resolution I know I can’t keep? If I can’t control the circumstances surrounding my commitments, I see little value in taking them on unless there’s value in the attempt.
Like, for instance, the infamous weight loss resolution. It’s a cliche, but for good reason. I can’t imagine the people who make this resolution only recently decided they needed to lose weight, so why the arbitrary timeline? Why give yourself a year to lose weight? That just seems like license to backslide to me.
When I lost a whole bunch of weight last year, I borrowed a motto from AA: Yesterday’s history, and tomorrow’s a mystery. I can’t change what I ate yesterday, and I have no idea what kind of temptations will assault me tomorrow, so all I have is today. And I can eat well for one day. It worked.
And I suppose that’s the heart of my problem with New Year’s Resolutions. They seem destined to fail unless they’re coupled with a plan and some steely resolve. And you can’t give yourself a year to execute a plan. Steely resolve isn’t self-replicating.
You have to push the execute button every single day, from the moment you wake up, and shore up your resolve with the little victories you earn along the way. A year is too much time, it gives you every excuse and obstacle in the world.
A resolution is, by definition, determination. Why set yourself up to fail? If you’re going to make goals, or big life changes, take them on one at a time. Pick the time and place of your battle and then win it. January and the advent of a new year don’t factor into it.
That’s why I set out my hopes for the new year instead. It’s fun to think about what I want to accomplish in the new year, but it also gives me space and room to accommodate whatever challenges might sneak-attack me along the way.
Because when I make a goal, when I resolve to do something, it’s getting done. If I have to move a mountain to do it, it’s happening. I don’t care how many cups of decaf or cupcakes get hurt along the way, stuff is going down.
Let your yes be yes, and your no be no. Don’t dream it, be it. Be a force to be reckoned with, and Heaven help anyone who stands in your way.