The year is winding down, and before you know it, it’ll be time to make those New Year’s resolutions. I’ve often made resolutions, but I’ve never kept one, and I don’t personally know anyone who has. I think my problem has been that I’ve aimed too high. I don’t think I’m alone in that, either. Lose 25 pounds! Stick to a budget! Exercise for an hour every day! Be a better person! (Better how, exactly??)
The problem with all of those is that they’re too long-term. You can’t lose 25 pounds in a day, short of having something surgically removed. You can’t start sticking to a budget if you don’t even have one. You can’t exercise for an hour on your first day, or second, or third. There have to be some short-term and intermediate-term goals in there for the long-term goals to be successful.
There was a post yesterday at The Simple Dollar with a great perspective on this, and some concrete steps to take. The post title was “Taking Dramatic Change One Day at a Time.” When you want to reach a long-term goal, or make a big change in your life, realize that you can only do it one day at a time. Set a goal for each day that will move you toward your long-term goal, but don’t look too far ahead.
You also have to be specific. “I will be a better person” isn’t specific. How will you go about that? Give more to charity? Donate more time to worthy causes? Read more? Go back to school? Stop swearing? Decide exactly what you want, then decide how you’re going to get there.
In my experience, it’s absolutely necessary to keep a daily journal. Write down your daily goal, and then write down how you did or didn’t meet it, how you felt, what happened, etc. I know that for me, keeping a daily food diary is the only way that I can stick to any kind of a weight loss plan. I know the number of calories that I need every day in order to lose a pound a week, and my daily goal is to stay at or under that number. If I can string together a whole lot of days for which I meet that goal, the weight loss will follow.
Don’t hesitate to make New Year’s resolutions. Just be realistic about them, and take it one day at a time. And remember, you don’t have to wait until New Year’s to start!