It is that time of year when many people look ahead and make a list of things they want to do better in the new year. Resolutions may include living healthier, losing weight, being more active, or simply being a nicer person. The health clubs always are packed for the first few days or weeks of a new year. Restaurants that did great business over the holidays, may see a decline as people try to eat at home where they can control what goes into their meal. Whatever the resolution, the odds are against you. I am not trying to be a pessimist. For those who know me, I am eternally optimistic, always looking for the good in any situation. However, New Year’s Resolutions have never been held high in my book.
Various studies have been done over the years. It seems I am not alone, less than half of the population of the United States actually make resolutions this time of year. I am not sure that puts me in the best company, knowing that there is a large part of the population that just doesn’t want to get better than they are today. They either don’t see it as being worth the time or they are happy with themselves and their lives as is. Note to the reader, that is not me, even though I am mostly content with my life, but I will come back to my personal view in a moment.
For those who do set resolutions, I applaud them to a point. They stop and take inventory of where they are and how they are living. They see areas where improvement could result in a better life; either healthier, happier, more successful or more at peace. The odds are against success. I have read that 90% or more fail at accomplishing their resolutions. They may begin strong, but lose momentum soon after they begin.
Some say that repetition is needed to be successful. I have heard everything from 30 days to 90 days to make an activity into a habit (therefore easier to maintain). One study states that the number of days varies with the person and the difficulty of the activity. This study says that it may take 360 days for a difficult task to actually become a new habit. I think this entire line of thinking is off center.
I don’t make resolutions, at least not at New Year’s Eve. My approach is that each day, I need to look at myself and see how I can improve that day. My inventory is updated daily and the goal is set for 24 hours. Not to say I don’t have longer term goals, but I try to evaluate myself and my progress daily. Some days I fail miserably at my goal, but other days I am wildly successful. I find that making, completing and maintaining such goals on a daily basis is easier and brings me happiness and peace in new ways.
My daily goals often are part of a larger plan in life. They stem from making myself a better person and making my relationships with God and others deeper and more rewarding. My goals fall into four categories:
Physical Health: I set goals that focus on being healthier. Right now, I make time to walk each day (about three miles). Last fall, I had a goal to run a 5K in under 30 minutes. This took a little training so I set daily goals that built to accomplishing the larger goal. Each day I only focused on the task for that day. I will likely start this again in the spring when the weather cooperates a little better.
Spiritual Health: I have a goal to strengthen my spiritual health by spending an hour each day reading devotions, scripture and meditation. For me this starts my day. It requires the highest level of concentration and alone time. But I find that it puts me in a positive frame of mind to begin my day. As I seek a greater understanding of God, I find that He helps me find peace in new ways.
Personal Relationships: I am intentional in reaching out to people that I care deeply about on a regular basis. For some, like my two sons, that connection is at least daily. Others may hear from me every few days or once a week. I find that a simple text or phone call is often enough to initiate a conversation to see how they are doing. But I also make time to meet for coffee, lunch or dinner. From giving to those around me, I grow stronger. By loving, I am loved.
Business Leadership: I am self employed, so I don’t necessarily have a staff of people who report to me. But most of my career included management responsibilities. Then and now, I make time to reach out to build relationships with business associates. True leadership builds on relationships. You have to forge a connection with someone to lead them and that connection requires maintenance: time and attention. They are personal relationships that exist in the workplace. I find that through strong relationships, my business grows.
For me, I find that these daily goals for self improvement are far more effective in changing my life for the better than any annual resolution. I take a daily inventory of my progress. When I fail, and I do fail, I pick up where I left off and work harder at succeeding the next day. When the world changes my plans, I adapt and shift tomorrow’s goals to compensate. Over my life, I have been far more successful by taking life one day at a time, celebrating each faithful step taken.