This time of year has a lot of people thinking about New Year's Resolutions. Maybe I'm getting a bit cynical as I get older, but it seems that "New Year's Wishes" would be a better name. Resolutions take resolve -- hence the name. Most of the time, though, what I see people doing has very little resolve involved. People think of all the things they wish they were doing and all the changes they wish they had made. They form a very hopeful list. They put a lot of effort into that list for a few weeks, and then the list gets shoved aside until next New Year when they go through the whole process again. I find it a little depressing.
I gave up on New Year's Resolutions a long time ago. What works better for me is Goals. Goals involve thinking hard about what outcomes we want and probably more importantly, how we plan to go about achieving them. It involves planning. It isn't something you can do well in just a few days. Some goals take me weeks, months or even years to come to a workable and attainable plan. To set an achievable goal will mean taking a very honest look at where you are now, where you want to be, and what means you have to get there. It means setting "mini-goals" all along the way to keep you motivated until you reach your ultimate prize.
Sadly, not too many people seem to set well thought out goals throughout their lives. They may set them for college or for getting their first real job, but so many people seem to stop there. Somehow they shift from well planned goals to wishful thinking. And then they wonder why they don't achieve what they want.
So this year I am doing what I have done for a number of years. I am thinking through the goals I have accomplished over the past year and what I did that worked. I am also thinking about the things I didn't accomplish. I am taking a good hard look at why I didn't accomplish them and making necessary changes.
When we drive a car, we are constantly making adjustments in our vehicle's direction in order to reach our destination. Some of those adjustments are big. We may need to turn onto a different street and make a total directional change. If we don't make that directional change, we will never end up where we want to go. But most of those adjustments are so tiny we hardly even think of them. We make little adjustments to our steering wheel as we drive. In and of themselves, those adjustments seem insignificant, but without them we would drive into the ditch or hit another car. Again, we would never reach our destination. So it is with our goals in life. Sometimes we need to make a total directional change in order to reach a goal we care about, but more often, it is the little daily adjustments that we make -- or fail to make -- that determine whether or not we attain our goals.
As I reflect over the past year and look into the year to come, I'm not just looking for the major directional changes I need to make. I'm also looking at the small, seemingly insignificant choices I make throughout each day -- because I know it's the little foxes that spoil the vines.