It’s that time of year again. People all around the world will be making resolutions tonight for the new year. Do you? I have mixed feelings about resolutions. Based on experience (mine and others), I find that we often pick huge lofty goals and then by February 1st (or sooner), we have abandoned them because it was all just too overwhelming.
The thing is, there’s just something about a fresh new year that can be so inspiring. If the previous year was a bit rough, there’s something freeing about saying, “It’s okay. That year is gone now. This year is brand new and full of possibility!”
MAKING RESOLUTIONS YOU CAN ACTUALLY KEEP
Dreams vs. Goals
I’m a dreamer. I have big, big dreams. (Did I ever tell you about my dream of opening a Christmas lodge?) That whole concept of “Shoot for the moon.. Even if you miss, you may land among the stars” is not lost on me. Dreams bring hope. Dreams carry optimism with them. I would never suggest that anyone stop dreaming. I’m certainly not going to!
The thing is, there’s a difference between dreams and goals. I think, especially with making New Year’s resolutions, we sometimes get confused. Goals need to be doable and realistic. They need to have a plan behind them.
Making Resolutions that Fail
Last year was the first year I had actually made New Year’s resolutions in a long time. I tend to be someone who takes more of an approach of setting goals throughout the year, revisiting and revising them as needed. But that lure of a brand spanking new year was just oh so tempting!
So, away I went setting my goals and picking out a word of the year. The other day, someone in a Facebook group was asking what our words of the year were and how they had panned out for us. Uh yeah. I actually had to go find the blog post where I wrote my word because I couldn’t even remember what it was. (It was abundance, by the way).
I also had a list of goals in that blog post and I’ll be honest, I wrote them down and completely forgot about them after that. That’s not like me. Usually, I create a piece of art with my word and display it prominently. And I usually keep my goals at hand and review them regularly.
Making Resolutions You Can Actually Keep
So, where did I go wrong? I didn’t follow through. I used the concept of SMART goal planning in setting my resolutions but then I just left it there in the blog post. When I taught goal planning to my Grade 8 students, I didn’t just teach the SMART goal setting method – I taught them how to make SMARTER goals.
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. SMARTER takes it to the next extremely important stages of Evaluated and Rewarded or Revised.
So, what am I doing this time to ensure that my goals and resolutions are actually becoming reality?
- Creating artwork that reflects my word for the year. I have done this every year that I’ve chosen a word of the year – except in 2018. Hanging this artwork up in a prominent spot keeps it top of mind and I’m reminded to keep focusing on it.
- Make a vision board. I’ll be honest here. I’m not really a believer in “manifestation”. I don’t believe that I can just create a vision board and by doing so, it will put my desires out there in the universe. The universe will then make those things happen for me. Listen, if you believe that and it works for you, that’s fantastic. But it’s just not what works for me. I make a vision board for the same reason I create artwork out of my word for the year. It helps me clarify what I want. It keeps it top of mind. And seeing it every day helps keep me motivated to do the work to make my dreams come true.
- Add reminders to my calendar for the end of each month to look over my goals, assess where I stand, and make revisions as needed. Pro Tip: Sometimes letting go of a goal is a completely appropriate revision.
- Put some alarms into my phone for mini check-ins/reminders of my goals.
Too often goals become a list tucked away in a book (or in my case in a blog post). We look at them as something outside of ourselves. Goals are meant to be lived. We should be breathing them in every single day and making them a part of ourselves.