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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.
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kimatha

August 2016

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