New Year’s Eve: The time when you pinpoint an area in your life that needs refining, and then resolve to correct it in the coming year.
If you’re a smoker, then your resolution may be to kick the habit. If you’re in debt, then your resolution may be to get out of it. If you’re overweight, then your resolution may be to give up sweets, to exercise at least twice a week, or to start using your treadmill as more than just a dirty clothes hanger.
And if you’re like me, you’ll review your goals from last year before setting new ones.
When you take the time to review your goals, you gain two obvious benefits:
- You see your progress, or
- You realize that you’ve made no progress.
For instance, let’s say that you make the resolution to get organized. A year passes and you’re still not organized. So in the New Year, you set a goal for yourself to get organized. Another year passes and you’re still not. You repeat this every year until you’re retired or dead.
The problem is not that you lack initiative; setting the goal indicates that you have a desire to achieve it. What you lack is a strategy to maintain focus of your goals when the stresses of daily life overwhelm you.
Consider the same situation: You resolve to get organized, but after one year you still aren’t. Before you make the same empty promise to yourself again on New Year’s Eve, you pull out a list of your goals that you wrote down last year. You review these goals and grade yourself based on how much progress you made regarding each goal.
Reviewing your goals in this manner allows you to remember what areas of your life you once wanted to improve. Maybe you have accomplished some of them and can be proud of yourself. Maybe you have fallen behind on some of them and hope to step up your game this year. Maybe you realize that some of them no longer apply.
Whatever the case, looking back on last year’s list lets you think “Oh yeah, I really wanted to do that…” or “I wanted to do that but I didn’t because…” or “If I want to attempt to do that again this year, I should try doing it this other way…” In other words, reviewing your goals clues you in on how you’ve changed over the past year.
Sadly, sometimes the process of reviewing your goals clues you in on how you haven’t changed over the past year. You may compare your current self against your former self and think “Wow, I really didn’t accomplish anything this year.”
It happens. Your day-to-day routines run your life, and you end up spending an entire year standing still. You think back to where you were at this time last year, and you realize that you’re basically the same person: No worse off but no better off.
Don’t let this become the norm. One year may not be a lot of time in the grand scheme of the universe — but it’s a long enough amount of time for you to accomplish a short list of personal goals. If you stay at the same stage in life for one year, then it becomes easy for you to fall into the same habits. You lose another year, and another year, and another year after that — and before long you lose the ability to make choices, because you’re no longer the position to take risks.
You’re too old. You’ve been in this business too long. You need to think of your family first. Whatever your reasoning, your belief is always the same: It’s simply too late. You lost your opportunity. You have to face facts, remember your priorities, and sometimes that necessitates personal sacrifice. It’s not what your hopes and dreams were, it’s just what you need to do.
Of course, the notion of “too late” is subjective. If you spent one year standing still, then that time is certainly lost — but your opportunity for change is not. As long as you truly want to create positive change in your life, you can and you will.
Following is my list of personal goals for 2007. Looking back on these goals reminds me of how I was a radically different person with a completely different lifestyle only one year ago.
Below each goal I’ve given myself a score ranging from 1 to 10 (1 = completely unsuccessful, 10 = completely successful). Accompanying each score is an explanation of why I graded myself the way that I did.
2007 Goals and Resolutions
1. Move to Michigan
A lot of things were involved in this goal. I had to sell, donate, or discard of all of my unnecessary belongings. I had to establish new living arrangements. I had to put in my two weeks at my day job. I had to inform all appropriate parties (cancel utilities, transfer funds, update account address information, forward mail). I had to pack the select few things I planned to take with me into my car and drive 600 miles to my new life.
I did all of this planning for a girl. One year later and I’m still happy with my decision to move in with her.
2. Create LifeReboot.com
It took two months of planning and design to create LifeReboot. Once the blog had been properly set up, my plan was to write consistent, original, quality content describing my life experiences. The objective was to allow people to share in my journey and learn from any mistakes I made along the way. I gave myself an 8/10 on this goal because although I succeeded at creating LifeReboot.com, there were a few months where I failed to publish consistent content because I wasn’t writing anything. Writing consistently has been the most difficult thing about becoming a writer — but if I truly want to succeed at it, then I need to write every single day.
3. Earn $30,000 without a day job.
Ha! When I wrote this goal I had no idea how hard it would be to earn money working for myself. Looking at it now makes me laugh at my own naiveté. In all of 2007, my blog earned a little more than $3000, ten times less than what I predicted I could earn. That being said, I still am impressed that my blog earned what it did. I earned $3000 without selling a product or working a traditional job. Every cent of that sum was from advertisements or donations, and since I provide all of my blog content for free, I suppose earning anything at all is an accomplishment.
4. Stay Healthy but Become Healthier
I had plans to become an early riser. I had plans to develop a strict exercise routine. I considered a vegetarian diet. Unfortunately, with no obligations to be “at work” by a certain time, I slept in a lot. Whenever I got a late start to my day, I believed I didn’t have time to exercise. Add these bad habits to a lifestyle where I’m constantly sitting and eating, and the result is a year where I gained almost 20 pounds. I really dropped the ball on this goal this year.
5. Play Piano
My intention was to practice for one hour every day. 30 minutes would be spent learning new songs, and 30 minutes would be spent playing songs I already knew. One hour a day isn’t much to ask. I’m certain that I had at least one spare hour every day this year, no exceptions — but I procrastinated during most of them. I’m giving myself a 5/10 on this goal because I did finally seek out professional lessons from a musician (I had previously been trying to teach myself). Unfortunately, I still did not meet my expectations regarding this goal.
Reviewing my goals with the above list helps me stay true to my current intentions, and simultaneously allows me to recognize the things that I’m letting slip from my grasp. Furthermore, it helps me remember that I’m responsible for my own life. I am not what I am due to other people, the state of the economy, bad timing, or a higher power — I am what I am because of my own personal choices.
If you fail to reach your goals, it’s nobody’s fault but your own. With this in mind, it’s easy to see why marking your progress as you work towards your goals is important. I therefore encourage you to write down your goals for the upcoming year, so that you can review them at its conclusion. After all, it’s a great year for a life reboot.
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