Calvin and Hobbes : illustration by Bill Watterson, Universal Press Syndicate, Andrews McMeel Publishing

Don’t Set Goals
This New Year

More Or Less Is All You Should Worry About

Another year is upon us and so is the dreadful new year’s resolutions. After the alcohol, sugar and multitudes of meats and casseroles have passed our gullets to reside in our bellies and asses, we step upon the scale and look back at all the things we failed to accomplish in the previous year.

Weight loss is one such goal. Or maybe we didn’t write that award-winning novel (or even the first 50 pages.) We didn’t learn to speak Portuguese or play the ukulele. Perhaps we wanted to network more or train for a marathon. Maybe we wanted to save more money or get better organized. With each day of the new year, we would record our attempts at bettering ourselves and pursuing our ambitions, just to watch them taper off, dwindle, and plunge to their deaths in the chasm of failure.

Where did we go wrong?

The problem is we measure for potential outcomes that are not easily predictable or in some cases, even realistic. The quickest way to discouragement is measuring your goals. By saying “when I get here, I will be happy” you are inadvertently setting yourself up for failure.

The problem with this type of thinking is that you are actually saying you are not happy with your current state. Looking toward the future keeps us focused on our current, and often internally-perceived, shortcomings. And with each failure, we sink even further into that pit of despair.

Instead of focusing on lofty goals, focus on small, achievable habits.

This isn’t new knowledge. Everyone from James Clear to Leo Babauta has said this on their respective blogs, and they know what they are talking about.

“When I face the desolate impossibility of writing five hundred pages, a sick sense of failure falls on me, and I know I can never do it. Then gradually, I write one page and then another. One day’s work is all I can permit myself to contemplate.” — John Steinbeck

Don’t be ambitious. Be realistic. Instead of killing yourself at the gym or attempting efforts that will likely be detrimental to your family and your mental health, take small bites. Do things that are easy, yet sustainable. Soon you will find yourself taking longer walks, lifting more weight, reading more paragraphs, writing more words, and committing more to memory.

I would add that it’s as simple as saying “I will do more _________.” or “I will do less _________.” Next, create some small achievable parameters to accomplish this.

For example:

more exercise
more water
more reading
family time


less television
less caffeine
less alcohol
pointless tasks

Some would argue how do you know if you are accomplishing your choices without measurement. These people are missing the point. The opportunity lies in being aware of the actions without setting yourself up for failure. If I decide I will walk more (say 20 minutes, 3 days a week) and create a system for accomplishing this, then I’m creating a positive habit that is easily achievable. Sounds easy, right?

So, what do you want to do more and less of in 2015?

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