We see New Year’s Resolutions in your future. Or maybe you’ve already made your list, which means you’ve probably already given up. By now, you’ve most likely disposed of any evidence said list ever existed. Shredded, burned and buried it. The list is dead to you. The “new you” that you dreamed of becoming this new year is fated to remain imprisoned somewhere in the back of your mind, reminding you how much you suck until next New Year, which will bring you new hope, which will be shattered just the same. A vicious cycle.
The New Year always brings with it a vision of a perfect version of the flawed and fucked up person that we really are. The desirable, successful, happy version. The person that we want to be, but aren’t. And when we wake up New Year’s morning and we’re not Jennifer Lawrence (for instance), we’re disappointed. January 1st always finds us at our worst, wasted, hungover, a far cry from the person we aspire to become in the new year. So we abandon all the hope we had, the resolutions we composed, because they seem impossible.
They probably seem impossible because they are. As surely as you are to write your resolutions, you’re just as sure to write them wrong. Most resolutions are unrealistic. The problem isn’t you, it’s your list. Your resolutions are too vague, or too far out of reach. Your expectations are too high. It’s constructive to set goals, unless your goals just set you up to fail. Try something new this year. Set yourself up to succeed. Be smart about your new year’s resolutions. How, you ask? Good question. Frankly, I’m as clueless as you are, so I consulted my psychic / the Missus / Wagz Kahlifa. This feature is a collaboration between the wife and I.
The New Year is here, which means it’s time for you to diet, exercise, undergo a personality transplant, and ultimately hate yourself. The customary yearly ritual of New Year’s Resolutions confronts you with an overwhelming list of everything wrong with you and your life that needs fixing, and you expect yourself to actually fix it, somehow, presumably by magic.
Self-improvement can be healthy, but it can also be discouraging when change doesn’t come easily. And when has change ever come easily to anyone? There’s a reason why people don’t exercise or eat their vegetables—those things take commitment, energy and time, and Netflix and Taco Bell are easier. But New Years lets us romanticize a better future where we’re thinner, nicer and more successful. Yet, we lack the structure, necessary steps and motivation to actually follow through.
So as your psychic, I’m prescribing you a different strategy. Take once annually, or as needed. HR at MIT recommends SMART Goals, and we’ve taken creative liberties composing these examples, as they may pertain to your new years resolutions.
Really narrow down what you want to achieve. (Use the who, what where.)
Bad example: Be thin
This example sucks because what the fuck does being thin even mean? You won’t know at what point you’ve reached your goal because you could always be thinner. ‘Thin’ is relative.
Good example: Lose 5 pounds by cutting soda out of my diet and substituting it with coffee or water instead.
This example provides you with a concrete number of pounds to lose, and a concrete step you plan to take to reach your goal—eliminating soda from your diet. It also goes so far as to offer some alternatives to soda, so you know what to do when you want a fix. Replace it with a cup of coffee to caffeinate and energize you, or water to refresh and hydrate you, instead of soda. You’ve constructed a clear set of instructions that accounts for inevitable setbacks, like craving soda, a substance you knowingly abuse. And you’ll know for sure when you’ve achieved the goal, so there’s an end in sight.
You want to be able to measure the goal so that you can easily track your progress.
Bad example: Get fit
Vague, not instructive. How are you supposed to know you’re making progress towards your goal?
Good example: Exercise for half an hour at a time, four times a week
Now you know exactly how many times you need to exercise, and for how long, in order to achieve you goal. Also, if you fall shy of four, at least you know you’ve made some progress towards your goal, and how much.
Goal setting means finding a balance between a goal that is challenging yet attainable.
Bad example: Write the next national best-seller in one month
Who are you kidding? Do people even still read books? And if they do, writing a novel is hard enough, but a best-seller? You don’t control how your creations are received. You only control what you create. Don’t leave your goal up to forces out of your control, like how well your book will sell. And when the end of the month inevitably finds you without a finished, best-selling novel, you will have failed your goal.
Good example: Write for half an hour, four times a week.
This goal seems attainable, depending on the person’s schedule. It will be challenging to set aside the time, but not impossible. The key is to NOT to burden yourself with impossible goals.
Be real. There are some things we can’t change about ourselves. It’s harmful to focus on changing the unchangeable. Instead, it’s healthier to accept the parts of ourselves we can’t change and learn to work with them.
Bad example: Be nice
Not only is this vague and unmeasured, it’s also unrealistic. You can’t just suddenly decide to change core personality traits overnight. Oftentimes, the hardest goals to meet are ones related to our personality because they’re so deeply ingrained in our brains. There’s a reason you’re not nice, and this goal doesn’t account for that. This goal has the hidden expectation that you’ll just wake up one day and start acting in a completely different way. Good luck with that.
Good example: Be more polite to my co-workers by greeting them and saying please and thank you.
This goal is the realistic version of “be nice.” This goal identifies a specific setting in which you want to be more pleasant company. Greeting people, and saying “please” and “thank you” are things nice people do. This goal is attainable, and it’s a step towards the broader goal of “being nice,” while allowing you room to be yourself.
Determine a time frame for your goal. Due dates, as dreaded and stressful as they are, offer us the necessary drive we need to see our resolutions through. If we complete our goal by the deadline, we’ve succeeded. If we haven’t, we’ve failed. In the difference of one day. It turns out arbitrary shit like this is the only reason we do anything. So set a deadline.
Bad example: I want to run a marathon in one month, and I’m a couch potato.
This is a bad example because, the time frame is not realistic. If you’re a couch potato now, realistically, you might be jogging a few blocks in a month, not running marathons. Or you’ll run a marathon before you’re ready, and die in the process. Pick a time-frame that is reasonable, but also pressures you to get to business.
Good example: I want to run a marathon in five months.
This is a better example because, according to Google, this is the average length of time it takes for beginners to train for a marathon. So it’s actually scientifically proven to be possible to meet this goal within this time-frame.
Your turn. Love, D$ & $WAGZ