It’s not even one full week into the New Year and already several people have abandoned their resolutions. The statistics on New Year’s resolutions are bleak. Over 80% of New Year’s Resolutions fail. In order to avoid this, some people don’t make any resolutions at all. I’m a huge fan of New Year’s and the accompanying resolutions. I love the chance to look back on the previous year and see what I was able to accomplish and look ahead to a clear calendar and figure out where I want to be in a year. Spending a week in Hawaii with my family made me realize not everyone is like me. When asked where he wants to be in a year, my brother-in-law responded: “I have plans for in 5 years and 10 years, but 1 year is hard to define.” My sister said: “Oh no. Is this about hopes and dreams? I hate talking about those!” And my dad and husband said “I don’t know!”
I have never set a goal to lose weight. But I have been guilty of the other two most popular resolutions: save more money and get organized. As you know, goals and dreams need to be specific. And that’s one of the many things listed in the many articles and blog posts about why your resolutions fail. But more than that, I think it all comes down to one main problem: not knowing and accepting where you are now.
Step one to any good goal is taking a good look at what baseline is and finding peace with that. Dissatisfaction can be a good catalyst for change, but it can also lead to unreasonable expectations and a general malaise about life. This is no way to live. Your first goal should be to find joy in your baseline and then work toward changes you would like to see.
Let’s look at the three most common resolutions and how understanding baseline could change everything:
Losing Weight – The times I have weighed the least, I have been sick and weak. I looked great and got lots of compliments telling me so. But that was not a sustainable baseline. In my life, when I feel the best and the strongest, my baseline weight is 15-20 pounds higher than those times I’ve been sick. And no one compliments me on baseline. If I set a goal to lose weight to reach that lowest point, I wouldn’t feel good and if I managed to hit that target, I wouldn’t be able to to sustain it. Healthy weight is different for everyone and while tracking pounds may help you track a larger goal of health, it shouldn’t be the focus. Find joy in your body as it is right now. What are you proud of? What hard things have you done? Then examine what you would like to be able to do that you currently can’t. My goal last year was to be able to dipnet even if I had a cold (which takes some major lifting!). Luckily I didn’t have a cold when it was time to dipnet (because if I had, I probably wouldn’t have made it!).
Get Organized – As I’ve mentioned before, this is a big goal of ours in 2016. In preparation, I’ve read several resources on purging and organizing. But our little home life is at a good place. I’m happy with the abundance we have. Getting organized for us means purging the things that don’t align with our priorities. Some resources advocate for getting rid of all books and going digital. That won’t be happening in our house. One of our priorities as parents is to introduce the magic of reading to our children. That priority is manifest in the abundance of children’s and youth literature we keep on our shelves. We do take several trips to the library each month as well, but my kids can pick from the books we enjoy that we keep on our shelves and discover them at their own pace. Most resources also don’t talk about having three children either. It would be a lot easier to just get rid of everything if it were just up to Mr. T and I. Instead, we have five competing voices in our home. The outcome of our purging and organizing will not be a magazine-worthy home. If those were my expectations, I would live a life of frustration with everyone in my home. But ultimately, those people with whom I share my home are more important than stuff vs. no stuff. We can do better, but we will never achieve a state of minimalism. And that’s okay.
Save More Money – If you are not aware of where you stand financially, you’ll tell yourself that you’ll save more money when more money comes. Or you’ll set target numbers without taking your full spending into account. Finding peace in your current financial situation is also important. If you face a burden of debt, blaming yourself doesn’t help. Sure, you may have gotten yourself into this situation, but it’s time to absolve yourself so you can start focusing on the solution. There are a million woulda coulda shouldas with finances. But focusing on what you could have done or where you could have been is not helpful. It is also unhelpful to set goals or wishes based on “making more money.” Where are you now? What are you proud of? What things have you done right? Once you can find a glimpse of joy in your financial situation, you can set some goals that are attainable for you in your current situation.
May 2016 find you content with where you really are now with a focus on specific, attainable changes from that baseline.