My biggest problem with New Years Resolutions in years past is that they are too rigid and destination-oriented. Too often I set aggressive goals without thinking about how I’m going to tactically achieve them. Then when I fail to make unspecified progress, I (like a lot of people) give up an wait until next year.
Last year I focused instead on a set of habits. I was marginally successful at keeping them, but also found they had more longevity through the year and therefore more utility to guide the behavior and outcome I wanted.
This year, I’ve divided my intentions into three categories: habits, rituals & milestones.
Habits: These are daily/weekly tactics and activities that serve as building blocks for the goals I have for the year. Some reinforce behavior I want to keep, others are intended to increase frequency of behaviors and tactics that are too often haphazard. For me this includes things such as 64 oz of water daily, at least 10,000 recorded steps daily, making & taking my lunch to work, etc.
Rituals: These differ from habits in that they focus less on “work” I have to accomplish a goal, and instead emphasize a goal that is a benefit unto itself. For example, I want to maintain a ritual of waking earlier (5:30 am is my daily goal) and reading for the first 30-45 minutes of the day. I have found that waking earlier helps me feel more successful and productive in the day, and also the days I have time to read the news, Wall Street Journal, etc. earlier vs later I feel informed and “awake” for the day. These rituals simultaneously have ongoing benefits but are enjoyable benefits unto themselves as well.
Milestones: Too often goals are developed as a destination. This year, instead of singular New Years Resolutions, I am going to focus on quarterly milestones with an emphasis on personal well-being, business growth and financial health. I don’t see these milestones as an end-state but rather a more manageable and accessible point of progress, at which point I can assess what I’ve accomplished and set new milestones for the next three-month period.
Your approach to New Years Resolutions, I believe, is a very personal thing. What works for me might not work for you. But I’m hopeful this new three-tiered approach will keep me focused, motivated and successful.
Happy New Year!
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