“You may have a fresh start any moment you choose…” -Mary Pickford
If this is the case, why does the beginning of January create such a surge of new resolutions, goals, and commitments? Why not July 16th or November 3rd or February 22nd?
We have the opportunity and the choice to start new ventures, make new decisions, and form new habits at any given time throughout the year. Yet most of us wait until until 12:01AM to “get healthy” or “make a million dollars.”
I have two theories on this:
- The first is that the start of a new year allows us to quantify our results and place our successes and failures from the previous twelve months into a neat little box. It gives us a clean break from our efforts and helps us wrap our heads around what we accomplished within a given time frame.
- The second is that the end of the calendar year presents us the opportunity to slow down and collect our thoughts. It is a time to reflect, to spend time with family and loved ones, and consider what is important to us. It’s also a time to review our results, learn what worked, and plan for the next chapter in our lives.
We reflect back and think, “I didn’t achieve what I had hoped to last year, so I really need to work harder now and set my goals even higher to make this my best year ever!”
Sound familiar? The problem with this approach is that we create these enormous goals with unrealistic plans to help us achieve them. As a result, an overwhelming majority of resolutions are forgotten by the middle of February.
Goals, by themselves, aren’t unrealistic because they are impossible. Anything can be accomplished given a long enough runway or enough resources. But if your current habits and performance aren’t aligned with the new goals, you are simply setting yourself up for failure. And when the positive reinforcement of achieving our goal doesn’t take place, we throw our plans to the wayside, along with the goals we hoped to achieve.
Instead, let’s all agree to make continuous improvements throughout the year: to ourselves, to our routines, to our habits, to our relationships, to our skill sets, and to our goals.
What other tactics do you use to keep yourself honest and aligned this time of year?
Here’s to a successful 2012.