January is half over as of this writing. The new calendar year debuted with stunning fireworks displays and occasional object drops ranging from a ball covered in Waterford crystal to some truly bizarre items. It is also a time for new laws and taxes going into effect and for some old laws getting “sunsetted” or repealed. Of course, we know that for every law repealed, there are four new ones to take its place. Car makers showed prototypes of their 2017 model line before the opened champagne from the 2015 New Year’s celebrations went flat. Companies are hiring, merging, acquiring and divesting with “new money” for the new year.
New diets and exercise routines are common New Year’s resolutions. By this time of the year, most resolutions have already failed. Changing behavior is not easy, especially if trying to achieve an unrealistic goal. No matter how hard I work out, I definitely will never be the same weight I was in high school, because I am about four inches taller. No matter how much I write, I will probably never write a best seller because there are millions of authors striving for that goal. Nevertheless, I can set goals to eat healthier, to exercise more, and not obsess over metrics, especially misleading ones like Body Mass Index. I can keep writing for enjoyment and improve my writing style and audience reach. Dropping a couple of inches in the waist or seeing an increase in readership are two realistic goals. For me, dropping 60 pounds or setting a goal of 1,000 new readers this year is unrealistic (I don’t consider Facebook “Likes” a meaningful metric because of click farms). Gradual small changes are more effective for changing behavior than sudden major changes. New Year’s resolutions are an anachronism unless the goal has several achievable milestones. The old saying “Life is a journey” applies as does “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.
Becoming a better person does not occur overnight. It takes time, it takes support from loved ones and friends, and it takes determination. I set a goal of becoming a better person, and for 28 years, I had Lucy help me do so. The last (almost) three years have been a challenge without her guiding me, but I have had some wonderful friends step up and keep me mostly on track. In return, I strive to be a better friend to them.
Mutually beneficial goals are better than personally beneficial goals. It is a way to change the world one little bit at a time. Stick to your resolutions, but don’t be afraid to reassess the goal and objectively review progress. A stretch goal is only useful if one is not drawn and quartered while achieving it. Try being a supportive friend or loved one to someone trying to achieve a goal. Your boost can make all the difference.