With the advent of another new year my mind is caught up into sundry topics and debilitating anxieties and concerns. I have so much I want to accomplish, so many changes to be made. I have old habits I want to leave in the past and new forms of dominating I would like to put into practice. But what happens when after a week or so you have already failed? Do we surreptitiously make a new list of goals and just pretend the year only has some 350 days? Do we just wallow in our shortcomings and come to grips with the reality of our outlandish goals? Do we go back to the drawing board and make smaller, more manageable goals? There is not one correct answer. The important thing to do is to move forward, progress. If we are not moving forward, we are inevitably traveling backwards. Maybe this year we will not engage in life-threatening climbs in Nepal, perhaps we will not get engaged period. We may not get the job promotion that we seek, and we may not read all the books and see all the culturally significant things that we would like to this year. There are only 52 weeks, and innumerable unforeseen hiccups along the way. So how can we shoot for the stars and avoid future discouragement? How can we be extremely successful even if not all our goals are met? Well, here are my ideas. They might not work for you, but I am guessing that if followed they will have some positive sway upon your prodigious subconscious.
1. Make two sets of goals
After feeling unsatisfied with my goals last year I decided to take a new approach. I make two lists of goals; the first list being types of goals that can be documented or accounted for i.e. write in my journal every day, read 35 books, pay off all debts, etc. These types of goals are important because we hold ourselves accountable. Making a goal just to read more books is too vague, it lacks a certain attainability. So I make a list of between 10 and 20 goals that I can look back on and say, I definitely did or did not accomplish that. You do not want to make 50 goals of this nature; it is overwhelming and will have a negative effect on your productivity. Also, just making 5 or so goals is just not ambitious enough. Peruse your psyche and find areas of your life that you wish to improve upon, and surf the trivial waves of leisure, pleasure and joy, for these things are important too.
Then I will make a list of what I call abstract goals. These are goals that are not as easily cataloged or compartmentalized, i.e. be more gregarious, keep in better contact with old friends, be more genuine with my eulogies, waste less time on social media, etc. All of these can be accompanied by a specific game plan of how to accomplish them, but the results may not be as concrete as the first list, and that is okay. The point is to improve and ameliorate our life through personal accountability.
2. Review Goals Daily
You need to come up with some way to look at your goals every single day. Maybe you keep this annotated list in your wallet, on your phone, or in your journal, but it is imperative that the words meet your eyes on a daily basis. I know you are thinking that is excessive, especially if you have a decent memory. But, we humans have a tendency to conform to the ‘out of sight out of mind’ notion. If we do not beat the proverbial dead horse, it seems to come back to life and kick us with its sinister back legs. So repetition and redundancy is the order of the day.
3. Add to Your List
As the year flows forward you will find little things that you woefully neglected to put on your New Years’ Resolution list. It is okay to add to your list, it is not laminated; it has likely not been canonized and sent to the Vatican City. So simply get out a pen and expand your list as you see fit. New circumstances will elicit new motivation and fresh ideas, there is no reason to leave these ambitions behind just because it is April and that is apparently no time to make goals. Every time is a time to make goals. Add to your bloody list.
4. Share Your Goals
Some of your goals and desires will be private, that is copacetic. Not everyone needs to know that you are trying desperately to quit a disgusting habit. Not everyone requires a knowledge of your delusional goals about romance. However most of our goals should be shared with those that are close to us, those who edify us. It is another form of being accountable. Sometimes when you are struggling and falling behind it is helpful and encouraging to have a friend tell you that you need not surcease. Subtle encouragement from loved ones can make an unbelievable difference. I know I at times am sick of myself and the useless tautologies that circle around my head; I need an outside voice, a familiar reassurance. So let a few in on the things you want to accomplish, it might help them to eventually be realized.
5. What If You Fail?
Real failure is failure to start again. We will all likely fall short of our goals. If we accomplish every last one of our goals perfectly, perhaps we aimed too low in the first place. Upon not realizing a specific goal we should not pout and wonder why we could not be better people. This is the time to start again. If you made a goal to not smoke a cigarette the entire year, but three months in you broke down and had a fag, do not abandon your goal. Just accept that you messed up, forgive yourself and put it in the past. Far too often we are weighed down by our ugly transgressions of yesteryear. Realize that you are not perfect, and that you can and will do better tomorrow and the day after that.
January first is a splendid time to make goals. But we can start our list whenever we want. Our year does not have to be in accordance with the Gregorian calendar. We can use the Berber calendar, the Chinese calendar, the Islamic calendar, or if we are feeling the true need to back track and start over we can use the Juche calendar where it is only the year 103. The good news is that you do not have to make your New Year’s Resolutions until April 15; the bad news is that that day is in commemoration of the birth of Kim Il Sung. Whatever it may be, make goals, write them down and do your best. 2k14 baby.