In defense of the R word

It happened again.

It seems that every year at this time, the poor, defenseless, well-meaning New Year’s Resolution gets a lot of bad press.

Everywhere I click, someone is talking about how much she hates the poor thing. It gets ridiculed. It’s the butt of every joke. Most people don’t take it seriously.

But me? I happen to like the New Year’s Resolution, or more specifically, setting goals for the new year.

Actually, I think The Resolution is so despised because of its inherent wimpiness. It doesn’t sound nearly as serious and strong as it’s counterpart, the goal, and even it did, it would still be despised by many. Most people don’t like to set goals because, frankly, they are afraid of failure. Why would someone want to set herself up for failure year after year?

A resolution sounds a little easier on the ears because to many, it is really just a glorified wish. A dream. And we all know that for the most part dreams don’t come true. So if we fail, that’s OK. We really weren’t that serious anyway. At least that’s what we tell ourselves.

Unlike real goals, dreams don’t come with an action plan. They are nebulous ideas of what we would like to do without the true never-say-die, no-holds-barred, get-outta-my-way resolve to make it happen.

For example, I have heard several people say their resolution for the new year is to “eat out less”.

OK? That’s a great resolution. But how does one know if she has achieved it? What is “less”? And since the resolution doesn’t come with a plan for how she will make it happen, she is setting herself up for failure.

A goal, on the other hand, might look like this:

I will cook five home-made dinners each week, and my family will eat out twice a week. To make this happen, the goal setter could:

  • Come up with a meal plan each week,
  • Decide which day of the week to grocery shop,
  • Create a shopping list “system” that works for her,
  • Establish a time each day when her children know she will be cooking dinner,
  • And maybe even decide that one of the meals her family will “eat out” will be pizza delivery.

OK, that’s detailed. But great goals come with an action plan so one can actually be successful. Of course, we can’t always stick to our plan. Kids get sick. Husbands go out of town. Emergencies come up and we have to change course, but at least we have a course to begin with.

To increase the chance of success, goals should be:

  • Specific (losing “some” weight, exercising “more”, and spending “less” are too vague)
  • Achievable (setting a goal of losing 100 pounds in a month isn’t realistic)
  • Measurable (instead of saying “I will exercise more”, how about, “I will exercise for 20 minutes, three times a week”?)
  • Have a time frame (instead of “I will read my Bible more”, how about “I will complete the 90-day Bible reading challenge)
  • Yours (You can’t set a goal that someone else would like you to achieve. You won’t be motivated to take the steps to do it if you are only trying to make someone else happy. It has be YOUR goal.)

I also think we often set ourselves up for failure with the words that we use. “I hope to”, “I would like to”, “I wish”. Instead, try saying these very difficult, tongue-tying words: “I will”.

Go ahead, I’ll wait.

“I will.”

“I will go to Weight Watchers for six months.”
“I will read one book a month.”
“I will earn $1,000 a month with my business.”

I love starting the new year with a clean slate. It’s time to forget past failures and start fresh. Sometimes I set big-reach goals. That’s great. It is an amazing feeling to accomplish a goal that made me focus and work for it.

Other times, I know that it’s going to be a stretch just to read, exercise and make dinner each day (or every other day… or once a week). Heck… taking a shower everyday feels like a stretch to me right now. It’s OK to set small goals if that is more realistic.

Whether we call it a resolution or a goal, why not make a plan for what you want to accomplish?

The goal can be big or small? Yes, you might fail. Life happens.

Even if you don’t achieve your goal, you will most likely do more in the effort than you would have if you didn’t set a goal at all.

As the old saying goes: “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

So, what do you think? Are you a goal hater or a goal lover? Do you have goals for the new year?

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  1. Hey… it's Tuesday & nobody has shared any goals with you… hmmm… guess I will then!I usually make the resolution type but turning 40 seems to be making me want to make more serious changes to my life. I have a goal to drop a big chunk of weight, a goal to work my business consistently (earning $$ & other perks). I do have more specific goals & action plans but won't bother sharing them all here.I hope that 2010 is all you hope & wish for!Laurel

  2. I will read the entire Bible this year. I have a plan and so far it is working.I will finish at least 3 yarn projects this year.I will continue with my MMM's. I have to. I have a t-shirt.I will make my bed and straighted my bedroom everyday in an attempt to begin to make it more of my "safe" place in the house. I would like to lose weight and be more active, but in reality not enough to really make that big of an effort, so I won't make it a resolution.what are yours?

  3. I have only two, and they pretty good for me! I decided to not add weight issues or other vices but something I know needed to change and something I wanted to get done. 1- I will utilize the library more, only buying books for the three main series I adore. 2- I will finish two scrapbooks this year, two yarn projects and make a start on the quilt I would love to make.

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