We all know what becomes of New Year’s resolutions. No matter how resolute we are most of these resolutions to “exercise every day” or “lose 20 pounds in a month” go into the dust bin of good intentions before Valentine’s Day.
Yet, I still see the New Year as a new start and I like jotting down some goals for the year. Although, admittedly I don’t look at these goals again, at least not until there is a crisis of procrastination in the form of things like not paying my bills on time or not getting the freelance writing jobs I want to get.
But this year was different. Instead of writing down things like “climb Mt. Everest” or “read 50 books in a year,” both goals I’d never reach, I simply listed 5 things I want to do each day. My daily to-do list comes from things I already like to do, as well as a few I need to do, including reading, exercising (walk, bike, etc.), stretching/yoga, studying photography, and marketing for more freelance copywriting jobs (I already have pretty good writing habits, having spent years honing this skill).
Unlike the resolutions I’ve made in the past there is no pressure to do things for a certain amount of time, like “exercise for 50 minutes on a treadmill every morning.” The 5 things I listed are simply reminders to do these things. With all the distractions I encounter during the day and the incessant pull of digital news (my downfall) on my tablet and Iphone, it is easy to get away from the things I truly love and have neglected somewhat, i.e., reading and photography.
What I like about this approach is that if I don’t spend much time on any of these things on my list, such as, “spend time reading a book,” at least I’ll crack that book and read a page or two, and perhaps the next day I’ll read more. The same with the other “not resolutions” on my list, like exercise, stretching and photography. I think the problem with setting a goal of doing something for a certain amount of time is that if and when you get off track it is easy to just give up.
I started this routine before Christmas and I can say this–so far so good! I can’t claim perfection, but that’s alright. What I have is a reminder to engage in these positive activities during the course of the day. If I’m killing time waiting for my grandson’s hockey practice to get over, I go for a walk to get in my exercise. Waiting for a doctor appointment? I have an excellent photography book on my Kindle I can study.
I’m also developing some good habits, like taking a book with me when I leave the house and stretching most every day, which helps me with other activities, like gardening and exercising.
If you’re not already practicing some good habits it’s hard to keep an unrealistic goal just because it’s a New Year. There is no magic dust. However, writing down some things you already like to do could lead to the real goal you’re looking to achieve. If you like walking the dog a couple of blocks perhaps you can gradually expand on this to “walking a quarter of a mile.” In other words, start with a small goal and see if it leads to achieving a larger goal. At least I hope so, which is what I’m trying to do.
Maybe one year I will read those 50 books and at least climb a steep hill!
Happy New Years!