Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Towards a Better Resolution

I have been making birthday and New Years’ Resolutions ever since I started keeping journals, at the age of eight. Although I have been refining the process through my lifetime, they tend to always be formed along the same theme. Since I keep doing it, and enjoying it, I think I have a pretty good system in place. Here are the parameters for my resolution-making formula.

I make 10 general resolutions. These address all areas of life: spiritual, physical, psychological, and social. They also cover the JOY spectrum I learned in Sunday School: my relationships with Jesus first, then Others, then Self. They tend to cover the same areas of priorities and personal development that have been important throughout my life: family, prayer life, personal fitness, housekeeping projects (gardening, building, decluttering), skills development (piano, art, writing), and career advancement (publishing).

Making general resolutions is important in defining what is most important to me at this moment in my life, before making more specific ones. The more specific goals are those that outline exactly how I am going to meet each resolution. For example, here is one item that appears on most adults’ list: personal fitness. How many minutes per day will I exercise? What forms of exercise will I use? In looking back on the year, one might say, “Okay, I can still stand to lose 5 pounds, but I did manage to weight train twice a week and increase my muscle to fat ratio.” So even if you have to work more on the same resolution next year, you can say you did not fail. You were successful in part of the goals.

Always on my list is Writing More and Getting Published. Under that goal, I can say: write x minutes per day, submit one proposal per month, submit to y publisher of z magazine, etc. If I fail at publishing in print, at least I can say I wrote everyday and self-published on my blog.

Sometimes I can kill two birds with one stone. The specifics of two different general goals can work toward both ends. Decluttering has been quite popularized of late. Last year, under the general resolution of “organize house”, I made it a sub-goal to donate one-third of my books to my public library. I did it, and was able to use my new-found shelf space to organize our home office, which was another of my sub-goals. (In all fairness, I must admit that my garage is still a mess; however, I did take 5 minutes per day throughout the fall to organize small sections of it.)

On my birthday, Aug. 30, I revisit my goals. I put a check mark under the ones that I have made progress on, making notes on what I have done and what could be done better, and refine. Then I make a new list of goals, building on the ones I had made earlier in the year. I keep my resolutions in my journal. Others might find it easier to keep a notebook just for this purpose. A mini-notebook can be used for a daily log of exercise to keep you on track.

Do you keep your resolutions private, or make them public? This depends on you. Some people find that confiding their goals in someone help them to keep them better. Others find this a hindrance. I have a few writing friends that I have confided my publishing goals in, but in general keep those private. My spiritual and personal fitness goals are completely private. My organizational goals are public; they make for good conversation.

Obviously, resolutions must be reasonable, or they will be given up within a week. Only you know what is possible for you.

Happy New Year to you and yours, and if you make resolutions, resolve to keep them!

1 comment:

Loren Christie said...

Good thoughts! I will think about my resolutions, they are pretty similar. I love your JOY idea. I've never heard that.