Sunday, January 3, 2010

Resolving not to resolve... sort of

I hate New Year's Resolutions. I never keep them, or even remember what they were. I always feel dumb resolving to do something like "get in shape" or "make more time for me". I am curious what percentage of American women resolve to lose weight each year, and don't do it. That said, I really do like the process of reflecting on the year and trying to consciously make changes to improve the next year. I was thinking that setting goals might be a better thing to do than make a formal, intimidating, year-long RESOLUTION.

I have worked with numerous groups of students on goal-setting. I like to use a quaint little acronym (S.M.A.R.T.) that I became familiar working for NOLS. Good goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. I figured this was a good time to start practicing what I have preached. I sat down this evening with grand plans to make some goals for the year, but had trouble thinking about the whole year. Years that are now past seem to be very short, but the one ahead of me seems very long right now, and therefore hard to plan for or thing about as a unit. However, I did have plenty of things I wanted to accomplish on a shorter time scale. So, I made a list of 10 goals for January, and decided that monthly goal setting would be a pretty good activity. So after my initial decision not to make resolutions this year, I actually have one after all... I hear by resolve to make goals at the beginning of each month, and to revisit them at the end of each month.

For January I have 10 goals. One is to accomplish a lab safety project that I have been avoiding. One is getting to the next phase on a paper I am trying to write. Two have to do with physical fitness, specifically making time for climbing, and getting out on the ice at least once. One is to make sure I see a friend I haven't seen in a while. One is to visit family members a few hours away. One is about sticking with a new hobby of mine (scrap booking). One is to go hear local live music at least once. One is to make at least 6 blog posts.*

Each of these goals is doable, but I don't think I will accomplish all of them. I have a long history of telling myself I am going to do things, and then not doing them. Maybe this process can break me of that habit. I am hoping that thinking about what I get done and what I don't each month will help me figure out my priorities, and whether or not I am allotting them enough time, and, subsequently, better manage my time the following month. Make goals...evaluate...repeat... this might even lead to a spreadsheet and graphs! Now I just need to remember to reevaluate come the end of January, and each month thereafter. Reminders will be greatly appreciated!

*Yes, I know I only described 9 of my 10 goals. The 10th is complicated, personal, and takes place entirely inside by brain, so it stays private.

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