“Cat: Where are you going?
Alice: Which way should I go?
Cat: That depends on where you are going.
Alice: I don’t know.
Cat: Then it doesn’t matter which way you go” (Lewis Carol, Alice in Wonderland).
Is this the year you actually do it? Woah, let’s not get crazy now.
Heaven forbid you make a New Years resolution, and it actually happens. The apocalypse might come right then. Hell might freeze solid.
Most of the conversations I’ve had about New Years Resolutions have been sheepish, defensive and short. Someone is making resolutions, otherwise the gyms wouldn’t be full in January. But I guess they don’t want to talk about it. I get it. Will power is a fickle mistress. Put a bag of chips in front of me and I’ll prove it to you.
But I still believe in resolutions. A year is too much time to waste, and how will I truly accomplish something if I don’t even know what I want to do?
Last year was the first year I made hard, fast resolutions. I wrote two pages of them. I accomplished about half.
Some were miraculously successful. I made the stereotypical resolution to lose weight. I wrote down the number I wanted to see on the scale, lighter than I’d been since graduation. But I didn’t have much hope, I think. So it’s a miracle that I’ve reached December at that weight-loss goal, thanks to Trim Healthy Mama and a lot of hard work.
This brought a surprise with it: running. I didn’t want to run. I was sure I couldn’t do it. But when a friend I met through Trim Healthy Mama goaded me to train for a 5K in August, I couldn’t shake the feeling that this was the kind of crazy I needed. I bought a pair of shoes and downloaded ‘Couch to 5K’ onto my phone.
Two months later, I ran my first 5K. I was in love. I ran three more 5Ks. November 1st, I ran 10 kilometres for the first time and now run that distance weekly. Resolution #1 for next year? Run my first half-marathon.
I also set a goal to release my first book. It was late, but We are the Living was published at the end of the summer. I’m proud of it, and I learned a lot. I’m now almost done my next novel.
Where I failed was finances. I think my goals were realistic, but I made some bad choices, and some things didn’t go the way I planned. The time wasn’t wasted, because I learned a lot and gained humility.
Will I make resolutions for 2015? You bet. I’m in the midst of thinking and praying and drafting a list. I encourage you to write a list too–if nothing else, to help you remember what you’d like to do this year.
Here are a few pointers.
1. Make the goals specific. If you don’t know your destination, how will you know when you get there? For instance, instead of saying “I want to run farther next year,” I wrote “I want to run the Imagine Mental Health Half-Marathon”. That gives me a place and a time. The goal is measurable.
2. Make it reasonably attainable, but not too small. In order to run a half marathon, I need to double my distance. I’ve never even run a 10K race. But, I’ve already doubled my distance once, and I have a training plan I can implement. It will be a lot of work, but if I’m healthy I can do it. It’s realistic, but I’ll need to break it down into small steps. I can’t do it all at once.
3. Make a time-limit or deadline–even if that is just ‘by December 31, 2015’. Build in some urgency. For instance, I know that I need to double my distance by mid-September in order to attain my half-marathon goal.
4. Make it fun. I wrote a whole list of random things I wanted to do this year: go to Folklorama (a cultural festival in Winnipeg), go catfishing, go to the symphony, cook Christmas dinner for my family, learn a new skill, make a new friend and so forth. Just a bucket list of sorts that I’d be disappointed if I forgot to do. I learned a new skill, and I made two new friends. I didn’t go to the symphony. But there’s always next year.
I would suggest making goals in various areas of your life (i.e. finances, fitness, family and friends, faith) but not too many. 2 pages may be too much. Finally, write this all down and reread it many times during the year so you don’t forget.
Ultimately, plans change and some of the resolutions you make at the beginning of the year will be unimportant at the end. But a year is a lot of time to waste, so why not figure out what ‘time spent well’ looks like to you, and resolve to make this a year of growth.