Reject Resolutions and Set Real Goals Instead
I hate New Year’s resolutions for the same reason that many people do: no one ever keeps them. They’re empty promises that we make to ourselves in a moment of sudden (and possibly drunken) self reflection. They’re fits of flailing optimism unmitigated by any kind of real planning or clearly defined goal. They’re garbage.
If you think about it, every day is a chance to make a big decision, map out a plan or take a step toward becoming someone better than you already are. Waiting around for New Years is just an excuse to procrastinate and then, ultimately, you don’t end up getting shit done anyway so you finish out another year with lots of ideas and zero execution.
Still, there is definitely some value to this calendar-driven burst of motivation. If we can channel that energy and use it to define and map out plans for real goals instead of empty resolutions then so much the better.
Earlier this year, Fabian Cancellara said, “Athletes shouldn’t dream – they should set goals and fight for them.”
I like this both because Cancellara said it (and he may very well be God walking among men for all I can tell) and because of the word he uses: fight.
That word gets at something integral to the execution of goals. A well-constructed plan will only get you so far. One morning, you’re going to wake up and you’re not going to want to do the work. And when that happens, you have to remember this word: fight. You have to drag yourself to your work and do it. You have to dig deep.
And you know we’re not just talking about bikes, right? Right.
Step 1: Set SMART Goals
SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Framed. Pay close attention to “measurable”.
You should know whether you’re making progress or not. This is not everybody-wins-softball – you should always know whether you’re winning or losing. Keep score.
Need more explanation about SMART goals? Go here.
Step 2: Tell People. A lot of people.
Accountability is key. Tell people and ask them to call you on it if you start to slip. Write everything down and put it up somewhere where you’ll see it every day.
Step 3: Make the time.
Part of fighting for your goal is making it a priority. Whenever I hear myself thinking, “I don’t have time for xyz.” I stop and remind myself that I’m actually just neglecting to make it a priority. Sometimes priorities are dictated to you: in 2009, my priority was (necessarily) working as much as humanly possible to keep my household running. This year I decided to take more control and made my priority to ride my bike, travel, and find better balance. In order to do that, I downsized, changed parts of my lifestyle and starting selling personal belongings.
Some days I literally had to grit my teeth and say, I WILL find balance this year. I WILL figure out how to have more peace and a better day-to-day quality of life. I turned down a lot of jobs and enjoyed the ones I took more than ever. At the end of the day, every decision was weighed against this priority of balance. I learned how to say no to people. There were trade-offs and compromises. But every day and every week, I made the time for things that felt centering and healthy and energizing.
Step 4: FIGHT
Fighting is different than making the time. Fighting is keeping your head in the game. It’s throwing punches even when you’re at your limit and fading fast. Fighting is about mental and emotional endurance. It’s about perseverance.
You’re going to wake up one day and feel lazy and uncommitted. You’re going to wake up and it’s going to feel easy to walk away and say, “I’ve done enough.”
Get up and do your fucking work. Get up and fight, goddamit.
And if you need more motivation around that, go buy the War of Art and shut your mouth.
Don’t make pansy-assed resolutions this year. Don’t type out a flimsy list in your blog and think that’s enough. Take this motivation you feel and sit down to really think about what you want and how you’re going to do it. Then make a SMART goal, shutup and start fighting for it.
You deserve it.