New Year’s Resolution Are Terrible, Try This Instead

New Year’s resolutions are garbage, basura for our Spanish readers or those who understand because of their days in middle school Spanish class.  Over the course of my old man life of 35 years, I have tried and failed different versions of the infamous New Year’s resolutions.

I have tried the simple version of the new year’s resolution of “I will not eat cookies this year”, a great weakness of mine.  After this does not work from the first co-worker bringing in treats for a celebration or inevitable Matt’s Cookies purchase at my local grocery store.

The next year I make the same resolution, “I will not eat cookies this year” and I even write this down on paper rip it out of my notebook and attach it to my wall as a constant reminder.  The problem is I like cookies, in fact, I want cookies and after awhile I cannot rationalize giving up cookies.  I give in to the almighty cookie and wear my Cookie Monster T-shirt in shame.

Why am I taking away cookies in the first place?

One of the issues that arise with taking away or removing something from your life is you actually WANT and/or NEED this item.  The resolution is set up to fail.

One of the problems with New Year’s resolutions is that many of the resolutions are actually just “quick fixes”.  They are an attempt to fix a problem or create a better self in days and weeks rather than over time.  The idea is correct, how do I jump start my goal for the year.  Resolutions are almost always given up in the first month, the joke for those that go to the gym is to just wait until February when the place will be empty again as all the new year’s resolutions will have quit.

The problem that we need to fix is how do we jump start our resolution and keep the momentum going for the rest of the year?  My solution is to “Try This Instead”.

Try This Instead

Try This Instead-Resolution Out, Goal In

Let’s get rid of the word “resolution”, defined as a firm decision to do or not to do something.  The word is “goal”, defined as the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.  Doesn’t that make more sense anyway?

Try This Instead-Write Down Every Goal 

I take the whole month of January and I write down all of the things that interest me in the upcoming year.  Any and all ideas get written down, it can be financial or personal, in fact it can be just about anything.

One of my first goal ideas is to grow a beard for 90 days.  I can start this right away or decide to start after I have considered all of my other goals in 2018.  It’s really a time to think and discover what you want to accomplish in 2018.  It’s a time to grow (a beard maybe) and figure out what’s important to you.

Try This Instead-Goals are for Addition, Not Subtraction

The goal can start today, tomorrow, or next month as long as it’s something I need and/or want to do.  I don’t want to subtract from my life, I want to add and grow.

Losing weight and losing debt are the exceptions and even that has some gray area for wanting to add and grow.  The feeling I get from losing a certain number of pounds or hitting a certain weight helps me grow as a person.  I didn’t just lose weight instead I added eating right, exercising, and  staying motivated all which led me to losing 5 pounds.  This is not the same as giving up cookies, you only deny yourself a guilty pleasure.

Add, not subtract.

Try This Instead-SMART Goals even MIT says they are Word, Dope, and Killer

Make the goals specific, don’t say “I want to run more”, instead say “I want to run a 5K every 3 months”.

It’s the SMART goal, the one they tell you about in school or work that you don’t listen to and

Specific Measurable Achievable Relevant Time-bound

think is total crap and doesn’t work.  I’m not going to dive into SMART, but the folks at MIT have in on their website and they are pretty smart.  I only want this to drive your goals and make them something that you can achieve.

Here’s another example except this one is bad and it’s mine.  I have one of my goals as “Focus on what matters”.  That is not specific or measurable and for that makes it impossible to be achievable and I guess it’s relevant but it’s difficult to tie it to something in my life specifically.  Time bound would be a very loose, “Yes” as I would accomplish this in 2018.  See how that example is a bad SMART goal, it’s not that it’s a bad goal, I mean it’s mine I wrote it down and it means something to me.

Let’s improve my bad goal and make it a SMART goal.  Focus on what matters.  In 2018 I am leaning towards the blog becoming active again, sharing what I have learned, and holding myself accountable.  If the blog is what matters, let’s create a goal that ties this with my focus.

I actually have started already, but I have decided to post a money saving tip each day in January on Facebook.  I have decided to #startfresh in 2018 and give my friends, family, and readers a chance to take a look at some of the every day things I use to not only cut spending but to have #focusedspending. It’s a great way to focus on what matters and that is Even Steven Money and sharing personal tips to improve how we all handle money.

Try This Instead-Short Goals, Long Goals

Don’t be afraid to make the goal have a short time-frame.  There is not a rule on how long or short your goals need to be.  Make sure to have short goals, long goals, but most important goals that you want to achieve.

Short goals are great, they can be 31 days like my Facebook  31 personal focused spending tips or they can be long goals like my 2018 Financial Goals.  The thing is no matter how long or short your goals are you need to have check-in points.  For example, in my 2017 Financial Goals, I celebrate my “2017 Half Birthday“, where I check in and see how I am doing.  It’s a great opportunity to assess where you stand on your long-term goal and this gives you the opportunity to reflect on what is going well or poorly.

For my financial goals I only need a “Half Birthday” check-in, but for anything to do with weight, health, and exercise I need a weekly or monthly check-in.  It’s something I know about myself and take into account when I am establishing my goals.

Try This Instead-Test, Fail, Start Over, Test, Fail, Start Over, Succeed

One of the reasons I start writing down my goals in January is this gives me the opportunity to try and test what I think my goals should be.  It gives me the opportunity to try out goals and adapt a plan to make my goal work.

It allows me to explore, to figure out what is going work for me.  It also allows me to fail and start over.  One of my goals is to grow a beard for 90 days (Sounds silly, but it’s deeper than that).  If I were to start scratching at my face and finally decide that I couldn’t take it any longer and just shave it all off.  I failed, but it’s so easy to start over.

I might look at that goal a little differently after my first fail, maybe the beard is something that needs to be a shorter goal with a more focused direction.  Then I start over.  I didn’t quit, I didn’t give up, in fact i’m still going to the gym in February.

I started doing this 2 or 3 years ago and it has made a significant impact in my life, it’s really how I create all of my personal goals.  Let me know if you have tried anything different to create and work towards your goals.

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