You either love or hate the idea of New Years Resolutions. Most people like them in theory but then hate them or outright forget them as the year progresses. Often the reason for this is people set goals that are far too lofty or not specific so they can't really tell whether or not they are or aren't accomplishing anything.
I, like most people, always set New Years Resolutions. I also, like most people, hang onto them until about February 1 after feeling demoralized by a lack of progress after January and abandon ship. It's an easy trap to fall into. January 1st comes and we're all, "New year, new me! Fuck ya! This is my year!" and then February hits and suddenly we're like, "Fuck it, there's always next year."
If you're anything like me, you usually abandon your New Years Resolutions due to one of two reasons; they weren't specific enough (or at all) or they were far too lofty to accomplish. I forget where I heard this but there's an expression I use a lot that says, "sometimes you've just gotta shake hands with yourself." To me that means you need to realize you know yourself better than anyone and confront some of those truths, harsh or not. At the conclusion of this blog I want you to be able to walk away with a better understanding of yourself, what you want out of the next 12 months (or beyond) and how you will accomplish what you want to.
"Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction." - John F. Kennedy
Why Have my Previous Attempts not Been Successful?
As I mentioned earlier, I've had a tendency like most to abandon New Years Resolutions rather early and when I tell you some of them you'll likely notice rather quickly why that happened. Some of the goals I've set for myself that have been largely unsuccessful are:
Read a book a week
Learn a new language
Become proficient on bass guitar
It won't take a rocket scientist to see rather quickly why any and all of these New Years
Resolutions did not take long to fail.
Each one fell into one of two categories; too lofty or not specific.
So if I know those are the reasons they failed the answer is simple. Be realistic in my goal setting, be able to measure success accurately and have a plan for how to accomplish each goal.
We know ourselves better than anyone so we know what we can achieve. In honest retrospection, setting a goal of reading a book a week, 52 books, when I knew damn well I MAYBE read 52 full pages the year prior was a dog shit goal to set. Or losing 80lbs, sure it could be done but without any real plan in place to do so you're just pissing into the wind. After a month or two of a completely rudderless "weight loss attempt" I would think to myself, "well now I only have 10 months to lose 80lbs and I haven't lost anything yet so there's no way I can do it now" and now I've disregarded the goal, stopped thinking about improving my health and gear up for my yearly piss and moan about weight gain come November. Like fucking clockwork.
This is an easy trap to fall into so what I will be doing and my suggestion to you is to be specific in goal setting, be realistic about each goal and have a plan on how to make it happen.
Why Bother Creating Goals?
Even if you have attempted to set goals for the past decade starting January 1st and have never been able to fully accomplish them any of them you're still ahead of the complacent jackass that never attempted them in the first place. Now, before that decade, you may have been that complacent jackass. I know I sure have been. But at least attempting to make a positive change means your heart is in the right place and you're willing to put in effort to better yourself. That to me is the sign of a good father, mother, spouse or person.
My wife and I were having this conversation the other day. The most unattractive attribute about a person is living blissfully complacent. It shows a complete lack of ambition and self-awareness. Elon Musk is probably the one person who can rest on their laurels and coast through life and he still works on average anywhere from 80 to 90 hours a week because he's hyper-ambitious and resents complacency. He of course is an extreme example and I'm in no way advocating the "grind culture" that people often get sucked into and think they should be taking part in. I could go on about that garbage all day long. But the point I'm making is no matter how successful you are or how accomplished you are in life, if you're not growing, you're dying.
My best friend always calls me his "richest friend". I'm not rich by any stretch of the imagination but I have done well for myself. I make a good living, I'm able to provide a good life for my family and I've done a decent job planning for our financial future. The only way I've been able to accomplish any of this is by creating goals and holding myself accountable to them whether it is career oriented, saving or investing. Where I have failed myself is to do the same thing in other areas of my life which have caused me to falter in my mental and physical health. That is why I believe creating goals are vital to a well-rounded, fulfilling life with purpose.
Being financially stable is great and all but it doesn't mean shit if I'm not around to enjoy it with my family. I know that took kind of a morbid turn but sometimes you need a reminder why you're doing any of it in the first place. For me that is my family.
My Personal Goal Setting Method - 4 Types of Goals
Through my planning of this blog post I determined that for me, it's best to set different types of goals so I am creating a well-rounded year for myself of New Years Resolutions. While I'm sure you're sitting on your phone or computer providing me with a drumroll, I won't make you wait any longer. Here are my 4 Goal Types I am going to be working on for 2022.
1 Financial Goal
1 Food/Nutrition Goal
1 Intellectual Goal
1 Health/Fitness Goal
I listened to an episode of The Ground Up Show episode 66 with Nate Green and something he said really stuck with me when it comes to goal setting or changing habits. Basically what he suggests is if your confidence level is less than a 7 out of 10 in a goal you can achieve or habit you can change then shrink your goal down. As an example, I am 0/10 confident I could read 1 book every week this year but I am 10/10 confident I could read 1 page every day, who fucking couldn't? Could I read 1 chapter a day? I think I'm an 8/10 confident I could do that, so a book a month should be well within my reach.
I'm going to share with you my goals for the year based on the Goal Types I mentioned in hopes that it might help spark some ideas of your own for your New Years Resolutions.
1 Financial Goal - Save/invest a total of $5000 in 2022. This will of course differ person by person but I encourage you to prioritize a financial goal no matter how big or small. I've been fortunate throughout this pandemic to have been largely unimpacted by COVID in terms of my career and financial stability but many people have not been as fortunate. Your goal may be to save $500 this year, if you are paid bi-weekly that means you would be saving $20 every paycheck to meet that goal. Would you be more than 7/10 in confidence you can make that happen? Then make it happen!
1 Food/Nutrition Goal - This will seem insignificant to anyone who has even a modestly healthy diet and I'm almost ashamed to admit one of my shortcomings but goals are nothing without accountability. My food and nutrition goal for 2022 is to eat 1 piece of fruit every day and have a bowl of Bran Buds every day to support good gut health. I know right, 1 piece of fruit, how bold of me! But I've slacked on this healthy habit for so long I have a 10/10 confidence level I can do this every single day.
1 Intellectual Goal - I mentioned this earlier but my intellectual goal for 2022 will be to read a book every month. With the help of friends who read and my librarian wife I've picked the 12 books I want to read and I will share that in another post for anyone who is interested in getting more reading under their belt!
1 Health/Fitness Goal - I recently got an exercise bike in November. An Echelon Sport bike for anyone who is interested. I'm not living that Peloton life yet (see Marc, not rich). I've found cycling to be the most enjoyable form of cardio for me so I'm going to ride it out (pun intended) to improve my health. My goal for this year is to ride 2061 km, or 1281 mi for my American friends, in the calendar year. Oddly specific, I know. But that is the distance from my town to New Orleans where my wife and I had our honeymoon so it seemed like a cool goal to pick that isn't too lofty. To accomplish this goal I will need to ride 5.65km or 3.51mi on average every day. Considering I usually ride 10km to 20km every ride, if I'm on the bike every 2 or 3 days this is an absolutely attainable goal.
How Can I Accomplish my Goals?
Now the most important part of this entire exercise, the How? A goal doesn't mean shit if you have no plan, rhyme or reason as to how you're going to accomplish it. Why waste the mental energy of setting your goals only to set yourself up to fail by not planning your attack? Ultimately you'll be letting yourself down and restarting the cycle of frustration and will be back to square one.
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” — Benjamin Franklin
I went into some detail about how I will accomplish my goals above by breaking them down. I find I am most successful when I break down my goals in bite sizes. In my last blog post Figure Out Your 'WHY?', Then Plan Your Attack! I talk at greater length about goal setting so I encourage you to give that a read for a more in depth look at goal setting strategies.
For your own plan you can break things down into bite sizes like I have so they don't seem so daunting. Some examples could be:
Save $20 every pay check instead of save $500 this year if the latter seems daunting
Walk 5000 steps every day instead of walk 150 000 steps every month
Allow myself 1 cheat meal per week instead of only 48 cheat meals allowed this year
Whatever is going to help you mentally make it through and give you a sense of accomplishment that drives your momentum throughout the year, do it. If you can find ways to combine your goals to kill two birds with one stone, even better. For instance, if your goal is to begin your journey investing but you don't know where to start, make that your intellectual goal as well to learn about the stock market and how to research a company invest in a stock. You could set a goal of buying 10 shares in a company, something is better than nothing!
I hope this blog has helped you narrow your focus and feel positive about the year to come. No goal is too small if it's important to you. If you think people are judging you, fuck them, it's not about them. It's about you. I heard some sage wisdom, on TikTok of all places, where someone said, "you'll stop caring about what people think of you when you realize how seldom they do".
Do what's best for you, do what will make you happy and fuck everybody else. Now go make 2022 your bitch.
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