I dislike New Year’s resolutions. How many times have you made a resolution that ended in a fiery disaster? It is not your fault. Resolutions are a form of “cultural procrastination,” according to Timothy Pychyl, a professor of psychology at Carleton University in Canada. Humans assume willpower is a character trait you’re either born with or not. Keeping resolutions requires changing behavior; to change a behavior, you have to change your thinking. Brain scientists have discovered that habitual behavior is created by thinking patterns that become the default for your behavior when you’re faced with a choice or decision. Change takes work and new ways of thinking.
I took a multi-year approach to resolutions. Every year I decide on a theme for the year. My past years have been to simplify my life (2019) and focus on what is essential (2020). First, I simplified my life to include my environments, habits, and the way I thought about my daily tasks. Then in 2020, I focused my mind and thoughts on what was important to me, such as my family, my writing, and my health. Next, I took small steps to realign my brain, and my thoughts, to my goals. Finally, I took steps to improve what was in my control and accept what was not. 2022 was a combination of all of that.
My 2023 theme is Forward Progress. I will take those realigned thoughts and move forward toward positive progress. I may reach some of my goals in 2023 that I started thinking about in 2019. By making goals actionable, measurable, and shareable, I have built-in accountability for my success or failures.
With each goal, I made a short list of action steps not shared here due to space constraints. Then I made visual representations of the plans. The next step took courage; I shared my goals with my family. By writing this post, I am sharing them publicly with you, Dear Reader. Here are my goals:
- Save 5K
- Lose 60lbs
- Read 50 books
- 50% less screen time
- Publish at least 1 but shoot for 2 books
For my savings goal. I have a weekly saving plan. I printed a list of how much to save every week for each goal.
For my weight loss plan, I have changed my thinking that weight loss is progress, not a pass-fail thing. Losing a few pounds is a mini celebration and gaining a couple back is a given. It happens, and I do not beat myself up about it. Instead, the goal is to steadily go down over time. Sort of like investing in the stock market. You have seen the line graphs that look like a mountain range, right?
I printed a fun book log for my reading goal, set timers for my screen goal, and scheduled writing time to publish those books.
My point is for each goal, I have taken small steps in the right direction. Rather than set myself up for failure by setting arbitrary resolutions focusing on denial, I have made a list of actionable steps for each goal and put visual reminders in my face. Also, I have not kept them a secret.
Resolutions are promises you make to yourself that you keep secret, which you can break when keeping them is complicated. Setting goals that you share with others give you a safety net to catch you if you fail and help to keep you focused. In addition, sharing your goals gives you someone to celebrate with you when you succeed.
2023 is my year of Progress.
Transpicuous Life Tip #32: Sharing your goals gives you someone to celebrate with you when you succeed.
Love & Light,
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