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[personal profile] kimatha
I always do New Years resolutions. I've gotten better and better at keeping them, too.

The other day I saw this article on CNN about how to keep resolutions, and I pretty much totally disagree with it. Not the content, per se, but the tone... the idea that you should do something easy instead of something hard.

I think that if you aren't in the right frame of mind, you won't even be able to do something easy.

I say, Set goals that are hard! Set goals that are really hard!

Do you know how AWESOME it is to accomplish a difficult goal? Not only does it make you feel justifiably good about yourself, but it also makes you a better person.

Goals should be specific, measurable, and hard.

There's a difference between the emotional desire to have something, and the commitment to actually do it. Wanting is emotional. You can only go so far on emotions. As soon as you lose the giddy excitement of starting a new thing, you need something else to keep you going. That thing is commitment.

You start a project - say changing your eating habits or starting an exercise program or writing a novel. At first it's all shiny and new and you're all high on it. But after a while it starts to lose that shiny-ness. You weigh in after the first week and you've gained a pound, say, or you're exhausted after work and you're sick of being jealous of the 20-something aerobiqueens at the gym, or the novel just seems like total dreck and you can't seem to figure out what happens next. You just don't feel like doing it. Maybe you'll give it a rest today and get back to it tomorrow... but tomorrow comes and you have another excuse.

No matter how excited you are about a goal, you can't rely on emotions to get you through. In order to keep at it even through the I Don't Wanna, you have to have a commitment.

So this is what you have to do: When you are setting goals, you have to commit to doing them even when times are hard, and you don't feel like it. Know in advance that those days are coming, and intend in advance to do those daily tasks even when you don't want to do them. If you're prepared for that you'll have something to draw on to battle the I Don't Wanna.

You have to be able to integrate the little day-to-day tasks and routines into the big picture. For writing the first draft of a novel, I set up an Excel spreadsheet with my entire goal mapped out so that I can see how each day's wordcount goal fits into the novel as a whole.

Reject the idea that missing one day won't hurt. It does hurt. It puts you another day away from achieving your goal. And it hurts your character. It hurts your sense of self-worth. It hurts your trust and confidence in yourself.

Do the tasks associated with your goals first, before goofing off. But fit your goals into your life in a way that works with your natural rhythms, too. I am not a morning person, so it would be foolish for me to plan to write or work out in the morning before work. But I do start writing during my lunch break, and I work out right after work, and when I get home I finish my day's writing. If I have other tasks for that day I might do them before I do the writing (because one of my Big Goals is to get my daily to-do list done every day).

You don't grow as a person unless you're doing things that are hard for you. Challenge yourself, and then live up to your expectations. Or exceed them.

Pleasure and happiness are not the same thing. Happiness is pleasurable, but pleasure without effort doesn't lead to happiness. You get happiness when you are the you-est you you can be. And that doesn't come from coasting.

Everything you do impacts your character. Character is A distinguishing feature; characteristic, a complex of mental and ethical traits marking a person or a group. There's that story about everyone having two wolves battling in their heads, the good wolf and the bad wolf. Which wolf wins? Why, the one you feed.

Character is like that. If you act with discipline, you become disciplined. If you do good things, you become a better person. If you cut corners, you become lazy. If you blow things off, you become a slacker.

If you really grok that, you will have something way stronger than emotion to overcome the I Don't Wanna. And each day that you overcome the I Don't Wanna, you get a little bit closer to your goal. If you keep winning that battle, day in and day out, you achieve the things you want to achieve.

That is how to set goals, and why to set them, and how to follow through, and why it's so important that you do the things you want to do, even when you don't feel like doing them.

Date: 2009-01-01 08:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] burgundy.livejournal.com
I may post this in various places around my apartment. I have been able to do all kinds of things thus far just by coasting, so I've never had to feed that particular wolf. And it's hard. I've never learned how to do it, and since I can get by without it, I don't, but I do want to.

And yet... some things have been almost easy. When I was taking care of Shadow, of course I didn't want to give her fluids every day, or pill her, or whatever. But I did it. Even when I was laid up with the ruptured cyst. I think what I also need to do is cultivate the same sense of duty toward myself that I have toward my cats.

Date: 2009-01-02 01:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kimatha.livejournal.com
You're a young whippersnapper yet. I don't feel like I fully understood this until this year. I've been able to coast on a lot of things.

Date: 2009-01-01 08:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bandicoot.livejournal.com
Well drat! My exercise spreadsheet accidentally got deleted! I wonder how that happened. What will I do, what will I do. I should probably stop until I figure it all out! ;p

Date: 2009-01-02 01:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kimatha.livejournal.com
You, sir, are incorrigible.

Date: 2009-01-01 08:43 pm (UTC)

Date: 2009-01-02 01:11 am (UTC)

Date: 2009-01-01 11:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sebab.livejournal.com
Actually I don't make New Year's resolutions -- why wait to do something that's good for me, or that I want to do?

Also, as far as setting goals that are easy, I don't try something unless I'm ready to do it -- and getting ready to do it, for me, often involves a lot of time figuring out how that new thing is going to fit in with all of the old things I've been doing and wish to *keep* doing. So, by the time I do the new thing, it IS easy... because I've made it seem like the most natural next step, and a part of me.

Dunno if that makes sense, nor if that approach would work for everyone.

Date: 2009-01-02 01:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kimatha.livejournal.com
A lot of the stuff on this list are continuations of things I'm already doing. All the writing stuff - I really decided on and started these goals on November 10. My original weight loss/fitness thing was started in October 07 and I've been building on that ever since.

Mainly New Years gives me a chance to actually sit down and think about these things, and assess how I've been doing, just because I happen to be thinking of times past and the immediate future. LJ makes this really easy too because I can see what I was doing a year ago.

I like your approach too.

Date: 2009-01-02 12:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] busysuzy.livejournal.com
Brilliant! Bravo!

Date: 2009-01-02 01:14 am (UTC)

Date: 2009-01-02 12:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] schatze.livejournal.com
No matter how excited you are about a goal, you can't rely on emotions to get you through. In order to keep at it even through the I Don't Wanna, you have to have a commitment.

I heard my mom talking on the phone about how she wants to lose weight/get healthy, but I notice she didn't throw away any of the junk food in our cabinets, nor did she buy anything especially healthy. She gets herself all psyched up to make changes without actually making changes.

Date: 2009-01-02 01:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kimatha.livejournal.com
yeah, wanting something and being willing to actually do things to get that something are totally different things. that's a great example.

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