Gray Matters - One step at a time
Belfast — I never liked making New Year's resolutions.
It's not that I haven't tried it before, it's just that those promises I have made to myself at the start of a new year have never really stuck. Whether it was something really challenging, like quitting smoking, or something slightly easier for me, like making a more solid commitment to improving my own physical fitness, it's never gone exactly as planned.
More often than not, by day three my big plans have been reduced to epic failures, and I guess I am not alone. According to an article posted at forbes.com, just eight percent of of us actually achieve their resolutions, even though and estimated 40 percent of us make resolutions.
Why? Well according to psychologist Lynn Bufka, so many of us try to commit to very extreme goals, like a massive amount of weight loss or making huge leaps in one's professional lives. Looking at personal change in that way, Bufka essentially said in the article that we're biting off more than we can chew from the get-go, which sets us up for failure — or worse, discourages a person from getting started at all.
The key, she said, is to set small, attainable goals and be realistic.
“Remember, it is not the extent of the change that matters, but rather the act of recognizing that lifestyle change is important and working toward it, one step at a time,” stated Bufka in the article.
Well I know I felt a little better (i.e., like less of a total failure) after reading that report, and it seems to make sense to me.
So this year I'm going to make a list of ideas for how to make 2014 an even better year than 2013, which will be a pretty tall order because overall, this past year was good to me and my family.
Here are a few that I think are do-able, and will bring me closer to that very general goal while having just enough specificity to make them happen:
As much as I have always enjoyed a good laugh, I want to make it a point to laugh a little more this year. Admittedly, it was one of my goals last year, too, to which a few of my closest friends and relatives responded in the same way : "How is it possible for you to laugh any more than you already do?"
Well, I did it this year, I think. I have a great circle of life long friends who are just as insane as I am, and my family and co-workers here are very similar in that way. When you are always in the company of others who appreciate humor, you can't go wrong.
I would also like to return to my once regular schedule of going to the local gym a couple of times a week, and as the psychologist further suggested in the article, I will make that goal more specific so I can more easily attain it. Rather than saying I want to go to the gym, in general, perhaps I set three or four days a week when I always show up. That seems like something I can do successfully, and with the added bonus of catching up with great friends at the gym who I haven't seen in a while (yes, I've been lazy) it's a win-win.
I would also like to spend more time with my son, a goal that is sometimes a real challenge to meet, especially as a working mom. I do try to bring him on assignment with me when I can, and I feel like we have had a lot of fun this year because I was able to share some of my interests with him now that he's older, like canoeing and fishing. The real work involved in this one is finding the way to carve out a little more time with him each day — play one more game of chess, make another batch of cookies, spend a few extra minutes together every night before he goes to bed.
I think these are all things that can bring me even more happiness in 2014, and I hope to achieve them all, one small step at a time.
And here's where I wish a Happy New Year to all of you. I hope your 2014 is filled with great surprises, and maybe a few achieved goals, too.