What’s Next? Resolutions, Goals and “It’s a New Year” Stuff

Goals and Planning

It’s not fair. I barely finished my caloric enhanced cup of homemade eggnog when it happened. The bells stopped chiming, Ryan Seacrest put his microphone down, and his guests stopped smiling and bobbing around the roof. 2016 was here. The TV commentators conducted their New Year wrap-up, as if the event was a football game, cajoling their viewers to hold onto their resolutions and “not drop the ball” during the coming year.

When the camera scanned crowd at Times Square in New York, I looked at the people adorned with illuminated 2016 headgear or neon necklaces. “How odd,” I thought, despite the penchant for messaged clothing, nobody was wearing a garment that digitally broadcasted their “My List of Stuff That I Said I Was Going to Do, But Didn’t, And I Swear Will Get Done This Year” No one was taking selfies with their completed 2015 Resolution Lists.

Why? Because public goal declarations can be a scary thing. It forces us to think about where we are and the gap to where we want to go. When we listen to ourselves talking, it compels us to think about the Whys, the Why Nots, and the Whens?

Sometimes the goals we describe are cleaned up and re-merchandised for the benefit for others. These are the goals we think we are supposed to have or say. For example, saying “I want to be a vegetarian and eat only organic, raw food,” sounds much more noble than “I just want to make sure that I have some kind of living, breathing vegetable at every meal. If my green items don’t always have a pedigree, or if they happened to be lightly garnished with cheese or some other condiment, so be it. One way or another, I am going to get more vegetables into me.” One important goal-planning step is to “keep it real.”

Sometimes it’s also good to amend goals to insure incremental success over time. When I look through my files, some of my goals look like a longitudinal study. Take “Become fluent in French” for example. Decades ago that goal represented verbal and auditory comprehension. It has now changed to “mime responses and smile as needed.” I do find it ironic that although my school days comprehension of verb conjunction has evaporated, I still recognize all the food nouns. Isn’t it amazing that I can I can remember what I enjoy?

Then there is my physical regime goal. I am happy to say that I have simplified it. Now, when morning comes and I see that I am alive and still breathing….Check mark! I am good for the day. Any physical output, weighs in on the plus side. My goal is to move and keep moving in some sort of positive way. Walk, run up and down stairs or even dance around works for me. That’s it. I no longer need to be strapped to scary pieces of equipment that have me feeling like a trapped human panini. So my goal is to keep moving with joy. Don’t forget that laughter and smiling burns calories and is good for the heart!

Taking stock of what was done and appreciating our process is important. There’s something to be said for taking the time to appreciate the small battles waged and won; the boring, soul re-sorting, time sucking, tedious steps that are sometimes required to make even a small, significant change. Our personal marathon may be another person’s jog, so we need to respect “where we are.” Take a moment to appreciate expended efforts and reflect. It’s what we need to do to take us from “what hasn’t worked,” through “should have worked but didn’t” to a glimpse of “what really works for us.”

I realized the importance of this step, when I once applied to a non-profit arts organization for a Teaching Artist status. The application process forced me to list everything I had done. When I reviewed my pages, it was a revelation to see that “I had done stuff!” Part of moving forward is remembering what the heck has been keeping you busy. Keep a list of what you’ve done and buddy up with people who will help you “remember to remember.”

Speaking of personal “aha moments,” I experienced one over the holidays, when I kept hearing the omnipresent Oprah’s Weight Watchers commercials. My first reaction was “No! This commercial is everywhere! Why is it always broadcasted when I am eating a chocolate truffle?” One day when I wasn’t grousing or chewing, I actually listened to it. I heard Oprah declare that “this this will be her year to get her health/diet practice right.” I realized that Oprah was offering a teachable moment about goal planning. Despite her incredible success, her private chefs, organized meal plans, creative trainers, access to spiritual guides, medical gurus and extensive support teams, she still contends with elusive health goals. She is “not done yet.” It’s good to remember that everyone operates in draft mode and are always re- editing.

So now before I spend too much time fantasizing about pitching my patented digital, “2017 Glow in The Dark Goal Plan and To Do List” Times Square Wardrobe on Shark Tank, let me take some basic goal planning steps. I’ll start by writing them down and doing something important like clicking on “save and print” Sometimes it’s doing the simple things that count!