There’s a trend right now in many productivity blogs to talk about what a terrible idea New Year’s resolutions are. While I totally get the argument (it’s just another day, what’s to say you’ll be more likely to keep a resolution if it’s made on a certain day, most resolutions are too vague and don’t include an action plan, etc.), I think the New Year can be a convenient push in the right direction.
“Get organized” is not a goal, or at least not a goal that you have any way of knowing when you’ve achieved it. Some experts say you should choose something small to start with so you experience success and stay motivated; some say start with something big to keep your expectations high. I say start with whatever’s annoying you the most. You’ll be more motivated to resolve a problem if it’s in your face, bugging you every day.
Sure, you want to lose 30 pounds, organize your entire life by February and learn how to play “Take On Me” on the lap dulcimer, but how realistic are those goals? Most of us aren’t willing or able to make the drastic life changes that these goals require. We get discouraged early and give up entirely. You want your goals to be aspirational, but realistically doable. Why not lose 2 pounds by February, organize your incoming mail system, and figure out what the heck a lap dulcimer is? Once you’ve attained those goals, make the next round. You’ll get better long term results.
Set Benchmarks and Celebrate Success
How will you know when you’ve reached your goal? Set benchmarks with measurable outcomes, and celebrate each one. It doesn’t have to be a big celebration, just acknowledge that you’ve made progress and congratulate yourself. Sometimes I actually give myself a high five (no, really). It sounds kind of insane, but it’s just nutty enough that it makes me laugh, and I really do get the sense of celebrating my progress. Try it!