New Year’s Resolutions

Resolved. To make new year’s resolutions.

I know that the average resolution lasts until January 17th. I know that they are typically too lofty to be achieved. But that shouldn’t be a problem for me. First of all, I’m rad. And secondly, I make goals for a living! I know first hand how to make lofty, high-level goals, and I know all too well how to make incredibly attainable, low-level goals. I have to do this daily for my patients.

So, if your new year’s resolutions included such high and mighty aspirations as “eat zero fat” or “exercise three hours each day,” it’s January 10th… how’s that working for you?

Then a thought occurred to me, we are not changed overnight. It takes an incredible number of repetitions to make something a habit. I believe the goal of new year’s resolutions is not to fix all my problems, but to be able to measure success over the course of the year. I enjoy my yearly tradition of looking back through my journal at the end of every year and seeing new things accomplished and learned. Resolutions can help us see that progress rather than be a reminder of failure. But only if you know how to make your goals.

In occupational therapy school I learned the acronym SMART when making goals. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, reasonable, and testable. Each is essential for a proper goal.

A goal such as, “I’ll save money on my groceries” is not measurable or specific, but it is reasonable. The problem with goals like this is that you can’t determine if you’ve met them or not. If I save fifty cents with a coupon, does that count? Technically yes, but I doubt that’s what we were going for!

A goal which reads, “I will eat 200 calories per day” is measurable and testable, but not reasonable or attainable. This sets you up for failure far before January 10th!

I talked via Skype with my friend and editor Abby yesterday. It is always encouraging to talk to her as her friendship is good for my soul! We were catching up from the holidays and praying and I said, “Lord, thank you for seasons and cycles. Times to remember and times to plan ahead and strive for more. Thank you for designing our world to have patterns and growth.” I’d never thought of that before it sorta spilled out of my mouth! How cool is it that I always reflect on a year at the end of December? How joyful to anticipate a new year of growth and learning as we turn the page to a new month?

That’s why I make resolutions. They help me live in this cycle. See where I’ve grown and identify the many places I have much room to learn more.

What about you? Do you make resolutions? What are your goals for 2013?

5 comments / Add your comment below

  1. There are several things here that are helpful to me. SMART goals–I’m really going to put some thought into setting some of those. Also, the concept of seasons and cycles is pretty profound to me; it’s not that I’ve never heard the words before, but when you used them together they just seemed to reveal that God’s plans often take time to come about. Seasons and cycles as learning opportunities — awesome! Oh, and when you said that you liked to read through your Journal at the end of the year and SEE the progress you made on your resolutions rather than being reminded of failure–epic. Great post Kelly.

  2. I’ve never been a fan of New Years resolutions. I try to make new goals and lifestyle changes as they come to my awareness.
    I was surprised that you didn’t share your resolutions in this post! I’m curious. I think looking back through your journal and reflecting on what God has done/taught you is a great idea.

  3. I’ve only made resolutions for the past two years, and they’ve been spiritual rather than physical. For example, last year I resolved not to defend myself because Jesus didn’t defend Himself. I learned a lot about me, and even though the year is over, I still notice the many times every week I try to defend myself! This year’s resolution has been just as challenging, so I’m very glad for the reminder that sanctification is a process!

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