Sciencing the Resolution

HAPPY NEW YEAR! (I know, it’s a bit late) Ohhh dearest reader, what a wonderous time, the probability of hope, the desire to finally be a better me!!! And so, in this year of two thousand and seventeen I resolve to… ummm… well I’m not really sure.

Towards the end of last year I saw, and read, a few articles that promised to help you ‘Achieve your goals in 2017’ or variations on that theme. Many people start the new year by making resolutions. I don’t.

Digression: Resolutions always remind me of the story of my Dad sitting in our front room next to the hearth. Just after the bells he asked a neighbour what her new year resolution was. To quit smoking, she said, upon which my Dad threw her pack of cigarettes into the fire. NOT RIGHT NOW! she screamed.

I don’t do resolutions at New Year, not that I’m scared my Dad will throw them in the fire (my parents moved to a place without a fireplace since then) but more because I’m aware of how futile it is to base any hope for change on the passing of time. It’s just not very scientific.

Actually, that’s all a lie. As every year comes to a close I find myself, unwillingly it seems, pondering what I COULD achieve next year. After all a year is set period of time in which one should be able to adopt a new mindset and be ready to tackle a lofty goal or ten. I’ve read the articles! I have the techniques!! LET’S SCIENCE THIS SHIT!!!

Nope, that’s not right.

I know that goals shouldn’t be lofty. They should be simple, achievable… hell they should S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-based). I should be able to set a goal and break that goal into tasks that are achievable every week, e.g. lose 50kg in a year = 1kg a week (with a couple of weeks buffer, one for my birthday, one for Christmas).

I also know that I should be accountable (wait, is that what the A in SMART stands for? I forget…) which means I should post something about what my resolutions… no no, what my GOALS are for 2017. Somewhere like a post on a blog that will get shared on Twitter (gosh, where will I find one of those?). I should make public my plans to do Pedal for Scotland this year. Or my desire to finish writing my first novel, or just my need to be smarter with my money and focus on reducing some of my debt.

Ahhh but wait, another thing I’ve read is that there should not be ten goals, there should only be one or two. That way I don’t start to use some goals as excuses for not completing others.

Gosh, I’d love to have lost weight but I was too busy learning the violin, attending first aid classes, and painting a mural on my bathroom ceiling to have time to cook properly so I’ve been eating takeway but that’s ok!

I have also read a few articles recently that suggest it’s better to focus on the process and not the goal, that goals are transient whereas a change of process becomes a change of habit becomes a new lifestyle built around something ‘better’ for me. Yes, that sounds like just the ticket.

So, I won’t focus on losing weight, I’ll focus on the process, logging what I eat every day, and logging my weight once a week. I won’t focus on how much of the book I might have left to write but on making sure I set aside the time and space to write, regardless of what words spew forth (have you heard of the vomit draft of a book? I’m still at that phase).

Right, now we are getting somewhere! Some new processes and activities which will help me move towards the goals I have in mind.

I’ll plan the activities of course, that way I don’t fall prey to the ‘can’t be bothereds’ which will kick in around the end of week two. The ‘oh but I’ve done well so I deserve a little break’ feeling that I know will descend, so I’ll fight them off by planning things and leave myself with fewer decisions which means I won’t need to rely on willpower as I won’t have any need to push myself to do these things, it’ll all just happen.

Did you know that President Obama only has two colours of suit for this exact reason, minimise the decisions you make that aren’t important and leave yourself the emotional energy (aka willpower) for later in the day. I read that in an article too.

Excellent, the jigsaw pieces are falling into place.

I have my aims, I’ll focus on the process rather than the outcomes, I’ll plan everything to make sure I’ve no room for excuses, and I’ll do whatever else I can to reserve some willpower for the evenings when I get home after work and can get started!

This has always been my problem, running out of willpower, running out of desire to keep things going after a couple of weeks but it’s obvious to me now that I know all I need to do is plan out everything and stick to the plan.

Which is exactly what I’ll do.

But not right now, yeah right now I think I’ll go for a quick nap, after all I can start all this stuff tomorrow, right?

Ohhh come on, everyone knows how pointless New Year resolutions are. Dunno why anyone bothers with them.


Also published on Medium.

2 comments

  1. Parties and holidays are my goal for this year. I’ve taken life too seriously for too long. I think this is a pretty smart and SMART target to aim for.

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