‘Tis the Season...for Resolutions
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
I don’t like to make resolutions, especially at the start of a new year. I tend to make too many, which becomes overwhelming and I end up abandoning them all.
A few years ago, I stopped calling them “resolutions” and started calling them “goals.” I set up several goals for the year, all defined well and measurable. I set up charts to track my progress. However, just like the resolutions, my goals took a nose dive well before February had started. One year, I went so far as to reevaluate my goals at the beginning of each new month, though this, too, was abandoned by June.
Non-specific goals (“I’m going to lose weight,” “I’m going to meditate more”) are destined for failure with most of use, because they don’t set up parameters for success. If I lose one pound, I have technically lost weight. Specific goals that are measurable and have a deadline (which can be adjusted if necessary - unforeseen things can and do happen) are much more likely to be achieved: “By December 31, 2015, I will have lost 10 pounds.”
The goal must also be realistic. “By December 31, 2015, I will have finished writing my first novel” is more realistic than, “by December 31, 2015, I will have published my first novel.” The former goal is within your grasp, the latter depends on factors beyond your control (the whims of agents and publishing houses) unless you self-publish (which is entirely possible in 2015, but the big caveat is that agents and publishers can help polish it for public consumption).
In my job, I run a group home for adults with developmental disabilities. I must write yearly goals for the individuals in that home, things they will work on throughout the year. They, with the help of family, choose those goals. The staff who work in the house are responsible for helping the individuals work on those goals, and I must collect the data, ensure the staff are doing what they are supposed to be doing, and report back to our funding agency the progress the individuals are making on their goals. Sometimes, goals are not at all realistic for the individuals or they are too easily achievable, and we must make modifications.
As with every year, I have many things I want to accomplish. To start out in January, I will focus on three goals, two are long-term, yearlong goals, and the third is what I home is a shorter-term goal. I think one to three goals is plenty to start out with, and as one short-term goal is achieved, another can take its place.
Goal one: Read for pleasure. (This is something I do anyway, but in the past couple years, I have become far too busy with other things to read as much as I would like.)
Measurable objective: I will read at least one book every two weeks, for a total of 26 or more books read in 2015. The books will be of various lengths and genres, and at least half of those books will be written by people I know, either in real life or on social media. (I have enough Kindle books written by people I follow or interact with on Facebook to fulfill this goal at least two times over.)
Goal two: I will improve my photography. (This has been a passion for about two years. Why not make it a goal?)
Measurable objective: I will take at least one photograph each day in 2015 and post at least one of those photographs on Instagram. I will explore various techniques and learn to use my smartphone’s camera to it’s fullest capacity. (I have a phone with a very good camera. This is certainly doable, especially given all the information online and good old experimentation.)
Goal Three: I will meditate at least 3 days a week.
Measurable objective: I will build up to meditating for 30 minutes a day at least 3 days a week. (Doable. I hope. I’m busy and have “monkey mind.” This could be achieved in the short term or it could take longer.)
How I will go about meeting this objective:
I will make use of meditation apps, such as Insight Timer (an app available for iPhone and Android devices).
On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, I will choose a guided meditation from the app. On other days, I may also choose a guided meditation, music, or opt not to meditate. If I cannot meditate on a Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, I will meditate the next day.
For the first two weeks, I will choose short meditations, 5-10 minutes in length. I will choose longer meditations in successive weeks.
How will I know if I have succeeded? Success will be measured in two ways. First, I will keep track of how many times a week I meditate, with success being if I meditate at least 3 times in the week. Second, I will keep track of how long I meditate, with success the first two weeks being merely sitting through a 5-10 minute guided meditation and final success being sitting through a 30 minute guided meditation at least three times a week (and I realize much of the time, especially early on, my mind may wander - success to someone observing me [as if I’d allow that] would be if I sit through the whole guided meditation, so that is what I will call success). Ultimately, I would like to be able to meditate daily - or almost daily - as a habit.
I have many other things I would like to achieve in 2015, as with every year in the past. I want to declutter, get more organized, drink more water, and so on, but I feel I must choose meditation first in order to learn to focus better in order to achieve more goals.