Have you made any resolutions for the new year? Today is day three. Are you still keeping them?
I have made resolutions in the past, but like most people, I have failed. I think something like 10% of people actually keep their resolutions. I have tried and been successful in some resolutions, and I have failed miserably in others.
But I am not here to pick on you or me for our failures, I want to help us all know that we have a choice to start again. I am not just talking about resolutions from years past. I am talking about anything in which you need a do-over.
The reality is that most people who do not stick with their resolutions miss the mark because the intention is too vague, or maybe too big. “I want to get in shape” is a goal, but if you give yourself a reason you are more likely to succeed. For instance, “I want to get in shape in order to ___________.”
Now, just because a goal is more specific does not mean it is achievable. But it is a start. However, what makes our goals more achievable is reflection. Most people choose goals because of something they see or hear and think (or say), “I want that!”
But the “that” soon fades from our memory. Or perhaps we get continual reminders of the “that” and feel guilty about having abandoned our goal. But saying, “I want that!” is not a goal. It is a want, or at best, an aspiration. Goals must be more than a mere hope.
Any realistic goal requires effort; most wants or hopes do not.
Of course, effort does not guarantee success or the achievement of a goal, but the only way a want or hope becomes real is with some sort of effort. Perhaps the effort is made by someone else, but for a hope to become realistic, it is almost certain that someone somewhere made a goal and achieved it.
So, how does this fit with a do-over? Again, the key is reflection. If we have not achieved what we want/hope to accomplish (whether goals have been set or not), perhaps it is because what we thought was important was not so important. Or perhaps it was because we did not have the right knowledge or skills.
By taking the time to reflect, we may be able determine the issue that prevented our success. Or maybe our time of reflection will allow us to discover what is truly important to us. Then, further reflection can provide us the opportunity to set goals and then determine what effort is needed to achieve them.
Setting goals does not mean that they will be achieved, but without a stated goal, even achieving a goal will often feel hollow, because you will not know it has been achieved. Thus, you need to write down your goals. You need to reflect on what steps it will take to accomplish the goals. You will likely need to involve others (whether that is to help you achieve the goals or to keep you accountable). And all of that requires reflection. What goals are right for me? What needs to be done? Who should I tell? Etc.
The problem is that reflection is hard. It usually requires quiet thought. And our world is anything but a quiet place today. But if you want to be serious about reaching your goals (or keeping your resolutions), you will need to find time and space to reflect. In fact, taking time to consider when and where you can best reflect may be the first goal you need to set.
As for the goals themselves – those are up to you. Many goal setting systems are available including SMART and SMARTER goals. And again, to create goals using systems like these will take a bit of reflection.
So, my one resolution this year is to take more time to reflect. That may mean putting down a book or turning off a podcast, but I expect to be as busy as (or busier than) ever in 2020. And the only way that busyness does not become simply completing the urgent, but unimportant tasks in my life is to make sure I take the time to reflect on what I want to do, on what I am doing, and why.
If I take the necessary time to reflect, I will not only be productive, but I can be effective as well. And that is one resolution that will pay dividends for this year and many years to come.
As you start 2020, whether you have resolutions for the year or not (and whether you have already broken them or not), take some time to reflect today. Then write down your thoughts. Keep them close as a source of inspiration and continue to develop the thoughts. At the end of the year, you may find that you have achieved far more than you thought possible because you took the time to do nothing, but to sit, think, and reflect.
Again, that is my goal this year. To do far more of what I truly want (or need) to do by taking time to stop and do nothing but sit and think for a few moments (or even longer) every day.