Making goals at the beginning of the year is easy: you feel more optimistic and motivated to make a fresh start. Come of the end of January, however, a lot of us find ourselves falling off of the wagon. It takes about 21 days, or 3 weeks, to develop or kick a habit. If we haven’t set realistic goals for ourselves then it’s less likely we’re going to form new habits and stick with them. Plus, once the shine of the new year wears off, you begin to feel less motivated, especially here where the days are still short and shockingly cold.
I’m the last person to be talking about setting New Year’s resolutions, though. Every year I set the same goal of reading more (50-60 books/year) and even though I read a little bit more every year, I still find myself falling short. I’ve set myself goals on Goodreads. I’ve announced my goal to all of my friends (who generally think I’m crazy). I started a reading journal but seeing as I already journal I found the practice difficult to sustain. I even promised myself that I would try and read an hour every night beforehand, which works out great (not) because I’m not always great at having a set bedtime.
The reason I don’t make my goal every year is because it’s ill-defined; I rely on others and the formation of other habits I don’t already have in place to try and get what I want. I am not my own goal-keeper. If you’re not keeping your resolutions, you might not be your own goal-keeper either.
In life, you’ve got the opposing team (your competition and your enemies) and your team (family and friends). These are the people who will act as your defense and sometimes even participate in your offense. But you’re the only one that’s watching the goal.
Asking your defense to watch your goal means they have to take their eyes off of the offense, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Plus, each member of your team has their own goals to watch. They don’t have time to check your position.
Relying on a teammate you don’t have, or a piece of equipment that isn’t there doesn’t make sense either because you need to be able to fit those things into your game strategy now. If you think that you’ll get x just as soon as you get y then your goal is really about getting the y and not the x. (For example, I can’t read before bed if I don’t have a set bedtime. Then setting the bedtime becomes the goal, instead of reading beforehand.)
Well, no more. This year, I’m my own goal-keeper, responsible for my own goals. I’m doing this by being realistic and making my goal tangible: instead of setting a goal to read more (what is more?), I’m blocking off an hour every day on my calendar (when I know I’m awake) and dedicating it to reading. No excuses. No pretending. It’s there in black and white, so there’s no arguments and because it’s in my planner I’ve got no one to blame but myself if I miss a day.
Is it a perfect system? No. But can I keep up with it consistently? 90% of the time the answer is yes.
Right now, I’m kind of ok with those odds.
In this day and age we place so many demands ourselves that sometimes even going about our day-to-day lives is exhausting. As a person who likes to keep busy, I find myself struggling to stay balanced. You can follow my journey here, or click here or here to find more ways to streamline your life to keep it simple.
What are some of the ways that you stay balanced? Give us your advice below, or email your strategies to firstname.lastname@example.org.