The plan worked.
Every year the primary focus for my goals are my fitness, my writing, and my photography. One year ago today, I decided on a new technique to help me stay motivated: dropping alarms in my Google Calendar throughout the year. Two or three times a month, I got a helpful little popup on my computer and my phone asking me if I worked out that day, prompting me to take a photo at a certain event, telling me to write all day during a school holiday, and so on. Writing them down helped commit them to memory, and the popup reminders worked on time, but this plan also helped keep my goals in mind at all times because I’d see the reminders when scheduling other tasks or events and I knew they were coming.
Later today, I’ll be setting up similar calendar events for this year. At least two ore three a month, scattered randomly throughout the calendar. It’s important to note these aren’t resolutions. Resolutions are too easily forgotten, as most people well know. Between the “I’ll start tomorrow” attitude and making resolutions without a plan to back them up, it’s easy to see why resolutions fail. Don’t make resolutions, set goals, plan for them, and put them somewhere you’ll see them.
Every year around this time, Woody Guthrie’s resolutions make the rounds. These are pretty cool. I especially like “wake up and fight.” I wonder, though, how his resolutions played out. Did he write them down and forget all about them, or did he revisit this page of the notebook frequently? And with a list of 33, was he just setting himself up for failure? These are a lot of behavior changes to tackle at once.
Creating a small set of goals with a plan for each is a lot more attainable. Anyone who made a resolution after the ball dropped last night should write it down and sketch out a plan to achieve it. When the plan is done, re-read step one, then do it. Make it something you can do today. If it’s not a step that can be accomplished in a single day, then at least kick it into motion today. Take action.
If you made resolutions last year, revisit them, but don’t bask in last year’s successes or beat yourself up over last year’s failures, concentrate on moving forward.
With my own plans, I did well. I succeeded in my Photo Friday 2011 project, but that doesn’t mean I’m done. It’s pushed me toward developing a habit, but now I can work more to improve technique. I succeeded in losing a little weight and I definitely feel I’m in better shape, but I will need to keep working to maintain it. I improved my karate, but I’m far from done learning. My plans from last year will evolve and help shape this year’s fitness and karate plans.
Then there’s the writing. I didn’t do near as well. However, I finished Lie with the Dead and accomplished a few things, so I’m good. Rather than sulk about it all day, I’m going to get to work on the next book and a novella I’m working on. This is my last day of Winter Break, so I’m going to take action today on my new writing goals. The tweak to the writing plan will be to pay more attention to those calendar prompts. If it tells me “Today is a school holiday and you need to write,” then I need to stick to that and not decide to play Call of Duty with my sons all day (it’s happened).
Constant goals, ever evolving. Steady improvement. January 1st isn’t a magic reset button, it’s just a convenient border in time.
Make your plan and get to work.