Monday, January 5, 2015

On Resolutions

The beginning of a new year often brings out the best in people. We make goals and plans for the new year, vowing that this will be the year we finally make those changes we know we need to make. We tend to exercise more, make healthier food choices, attend church regularly, go to bed earlier, cut back on screen time, read more books.... you get the idea.

We keep this up until March, if we're lucky, and then real life gets in the way and we start slowly falling back into those old habits and familiar routines that are so comfortable.

Our bodies and minds just want us to maintain that good ol' status quo.

So what if we really and truly do want to bring about some positive and lasting changes in ourselves this year? Exactly how can we go about doing that successfully?

Well, I'm no expert at making and keeping resolutions so I don't really have a foolproof plan to share with you.

But I did come across an article in Fortune magazine called "Think Big or Start Small" that got me to thinking about this whole idea of goal setting for a new year. The article is short and simple and worth a read if you have five minutes to spare.

Basically, the piece explores six books that offer ways to set goals and actually meet them. But the experts disagree on the best approach to making this happen. So three books are about setting big goals, aiming higher, thinking outside the box, and going further than you thought you could. The other three books are about taking baby steps and making smaller changes that ultimately end up  transforming your life.

And this led me to thinking about one of the ways in which Ryan and I are different.

Ryan is a visionary, full of big ideas and dreams. I am more of a realist, with practical notions and a thoroughly detailed plan of action.

In my house, that plays out a little something like this:

I set goals that I believe I can actually achieve. If that means setting the bar just a tad bit lower, I'm ok with that. I meet the goal, I feel good about myself, I'm motivated to set another goal and keep moving forward. I'm rarely disappointed this way, which makes me very happy.

Ryan however, sets these incredible goals that take huge feats of almost inhuman strength to achieve, rallies the troops, and then starts plowing forward, figuring out things along the way. If he doesn't meet the goal, he simply charges at it from a new angle. Disappointment is just a minor bump in the road. Conquering the seemingly unconquerable goal makes him very happy.

So in this particular article, Ryan is drawn to the three "big thinking" books while the three "small change" books appeal more to me.

Sidenote here: He helps me think a little bigger. I help bring him back down to earth. This is just one of the many ways that we balance each other out. 

Applying what I learned from this article to my 2015 resolutions means I'm taking my natural tendency to underpromise and overdeliver further. I'm trying to see if I can break my goals down into even narrower, more measurable steps.

Instead of my previous goal of "get back to eating predominately Paleo in 2015", I'm breaking that down into baby steps that should make that goal easier to actually achieve. Here's what it looks like now:

  • Make a weekly menu of 4 Paleo breakfasts, 4 Paleo lunches, & 4 Paleo suppers
  • Use this menu for the first 6 weeks of 2015
  • After 6 weeks, tweak the menu to 5 of each Paleo meals
  • Use this menu for the next 6 weeks of 2015
  • After 6 weeks, tweak the menu to 6 of each Paleo meals
  • Use this menu for the next 6 weeks of 2015
  • Introduce one new Paleo recipe per week only if you want to!
  • Take a cue from Tim Ferriss' book The 4 Hour Body and have a cheat day once a week
Sure, the new goal looks a bit more thorough than the original one but it sure looks a whole lot more doable now. I've got a plan that we're easing into and there's room for error which makes us more likely to stick with it, even when we blow it occasionally and just eat the dadgum Oreo. 

What about you? Did you make New Year's Resolutions? What kind of goal setter are you - big thinker or baby stepper?

1 comment:

  1. Resolution is a promise you make to yourself. One must work hard to achieve the goals set at the beginning of each year. The goals set by the writer are easier to achieve. Good luck!


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