05 February 2010, by A. Cedilla
Spot-check, guys! How are things going? Hit any milestones lately? How about those resolutions, yeah, still going strong, or did they fall by the wayside?
Any way you slice it, some of the big goals you set for yourself this past New Year would just about expire right now. And there’s actually solid research backing up why that happens.
- Why New Years Resolutions Don’t Work
- Why New Years Resolutions Don’t Work (an entirely different article)
Resolutions are common at the end of a year, because the promise of a brand new year, one all to yourself, one with which to start anew, makes it conducive to grandiose, inflated expectations and promises.
“This year I swear I’ll lose weight, quite smoking, save more, break up with that jerk, quite my job, etc…And then I’ll be happy.”
See what we did there, that little thing at the end? “And then I’ll be happy.”
That’s where people trip up most, thinking that doing, having or being X (whatever X may stand for) is the only key to being happy, the fail-based formula being X = goal, and achieving X = happy.
Putting your life (and happiness) on hold until “the real thing” comes along….it doesn’t work out like that in the real world.
So get rid of the wimpy resolutions. Don’t tie those with the start of a new year. Your life has its own cycles, which don’t necessarily sync with the calendar.
If you really want –want with a fierce, jaw-clenching desire– to get somewhere in life, you have to start today, and you have to continue tomorrow, and the day after that, and so on, until you see and feel the changes you want.
And then you go onto a new goal.
You need strong, compelling reasons, ones that last, that mean something to you on a personal level, and that allows you to give back to the world.
You take these big, long-lasting reasons, and break them down into time-specific goals. Track yourself using markers, milestones and seeing the changes at plateaus.
Say, for example, that you want to get in shape. Being in-shape is one result that fulfill many goals:
- Being in delicious form for your cousin’s beach-side wedding in 5 months’ time.
- Being in good shape – because this is the only health insurance you can afford right now, paid in time, labor and effort, not money.
- Being in good shape – so you can do the things you want to do and not be held back because you physically aren’t up to the task.
- Being in good shape – because you never thought you could when you were younger, and now you’ll prove everyone wrong, ha!
- Being in good shape – because you’re building a habit to keep you strong into old age.
Do the needed work faithfully, let go of quick-fix, insta-makeover expectations, and you’ll get in shape. What do you get along the way?
Any one of those goals being met can make you happy, and in different stages, too. You’ll feel proud of what you’ve accomplished and how much stamina you’re building up. You can amaze yourself with what you thought you couldn’t do. You’d be energized and start looking forward to other goals you want to try out. See?
A quick example: when it comes to money you want enough to pay the bills and worry less about it (to start, anyway). You build discernment by identifying what you really have to do to save, or earn, the money you need.
You practice discipline when you apply what you know, and strengthen your tolerance when some of the choices you make don’t pan out. At every step of the way you can grow stronger with each action you choose.
Build up your goals by breaking them down (“the why behind the why.”)
Be supported by the reason that keeps you going, by reasons so compelling you’re drawn forward, or so strong they push you past the limits of what you thought you were capable of. That’s how you can gain strength. That’s how you can move forward and get to be happy now, and along the way. And you don’t have to wait for a new year to start.
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