As a young man I couldn’t see the point of making New Year’s resolutions. It seemed so arbitrary a time to start making plans when everything to do was already upon us or would be soon. Take life as it comes and have fun on the way. There is merit in that.
As I’ve got older (and now beyond the half-way point in the allotted three score and ten), the idea of making plans appeals more. It isn’t a new idea for me – some time in a former life I’ve written about this before and how the lightness of summer seems to bring on the urge to reflect and plan. To pause and go again.
I live my life in a corporate world and am committed to my career. That sort of work demands I make annual (and more frequent) plans and I manage to do these every year. Without realising it, my approach to New Year’s resolutions in my non-work life has taken on some of the approach and structure of the corporate approach. Generally I would say it is important to understand the demarcation between work and home (even if you then actively choose to cross that line from time to time), but you can learn from each side of your life too.
So, this year I’ve spent time thinking about my goals for the year. the benefit of taking a break at Christmas is that it’s a time of year when physical inaction is pretty acceptable and one can allow the mind to drift, to permit an idea to roll round like a billiard ball in the back of the mind where it takes shape and emerges into something useful.
What became clear this time is that there are both distinct areas of activity containing many goals and also a need to ensure those activities are clearly prioritised. And to help retain focus, each item that made the list has an outcome and a deadline. Some are full year goals, and some are shorter term.
The areas of activity are divided into: personal, home, cars, family, professional. Beneath each of these all the activities are sorted into Must Do, Should Do, Good to Do. The Must Do category only has one goal in for each area of activity, giving me five non-negotiable I have set myself for the year.
This is the most structure I have given to my life. It does feel a little odd to be so, well, organised with myself but somehow while living in a world where uncertainty has become the prevailing mood creating some anchor points feels like the right thing to do. We have all, over the last two years, lived with much shorter horizons in mind driven by an obvious necessity. But there comes a time when moving from the short term to a more considered future feels the right thing to do.
So that’s what I shall do.
Next step is in building achievable plans for these goals. We all know how fragile New Year’s resolutions can be, but by working on them and giving them shape and three dimensional form I sense that I have more chance of succeeding where previously I would have shrugged and put my failures down to that being the way life is.
I’m no King Canute – I can’t roll back the tide of time – but I can also make those small achievements on the way. Small wins add up to big wins. And big wins are what life goals are about.