Set Realistic Resolutions You Can Keep

 Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

As you read this article, you will find yourself in the process of bidding good-bye to the old year and shaking hands with the approaching one.

Those who had a happy and successful year will be wishing for the new year to turn out to be exactly like the last one and those who did not have such a good year will wish for this one to be different. It is a point of time when we assess where we are heading and what we have so far achieved. 

Just like the birthdays, these are times when we identify successes and failures. Some of us conceptualize a year as "lucky" or "unlucky," although we know there is nothing of the sort; a year is just what we put into it and what we make out of it. 

We get a "lemon" and we can make a "lemonade" out of it by our efforts of squeezing it out (to continue with our analogy) and mixing the juice with sugar and water. 

One thing is sure and that is that the new year will bring even greater change in the lives of all of us than did the last year. 

There was a time when John Doe worked his entire life with the same company, in the same occupation. And before he retired, John Doe, Jr. joined the same company to continue with the family tradition. 

In the present day and time, on average, people change their occupation five times and employment thirteen times in their lifetime. According to Harvard University, seventy-two percent of the people will be out of their field and doing something different within the next two years. Even if we will be holding the same job, what we will be doing on that job may be quite different in the next two years from what we have been doing at this point. 

There is a major restructuring going on in the world of work. To anticipate those changes and prepare ourselves, acquiring the necessary knowledge and job skills may be the thing to include in our new year's resolutions.  

Resolutions is a yearly ritual. We write down our resolutions and then we put the papers away to work on them later, and then we forget where we put them. The trick is to find a "major goal" for the new year that really excites us. If it really excites us, then we will always be able to hold it in our mind and we don't have to worry about forgetting it. 

If we set other goals, they have to be connected with the major goal. Let's refer to those goals as - "subsidiary goals," which are relevant for achieving the major goal. 

For example, my major goal is to increase my productivity by twenty-five percent and get that promotion. Amongst my subsidiary goals, one will be "personal health improvement goal." Personal health improvement will be for the purpose of greater mental alertness, for longer hours, and overall fitness to help me maintain a constant level of high mental and physical productivity. 

If I do not keep healthy and fit, it is unlikely for me to achieve my major goal. By the same token, I will set "family happiness and satisfaction" as another subsidiary goal of mine. It is the overall support and happiness of the family, peace, and harmony at home that will be necessary to maintain an unfailingly high level of mental and physical productivity. We all know how the tension and conflict at home can make us preoccupied, absent minded, cranky, and tired. 

Similarly, I will make a social goal as another subsidiary goal. It is important that we set health, family, social, financial, and spiritual goals and it is critical that we understand how all those subsidiary goals add up and make a cohesive sense for the achievement of the major goal. The major goal must strongly excite us and keep us motivated for a long time.  

Having aligned all our subsidiary goals with the major goal, we have to get down to the Daily Schedule. Without filtering it in to our daily schedule, we are running the risk of witnessing a miscarriage (or stillbirth) of our "pregnant" and ambitious plans. 

That means I need to get down to the gritty details of what my day will look like when I am working on my major and subsidiary goals. Example: For my health and fitness goal, I will need to get up at six in the morning and do my exercises for half an hour before I get ready for my nutritious breakfast; reach my work place half an hour earlier before everyone arrives so I can plan my day in detail and get my notes ready for the meeting; 

I must get back by 5:30, so I can spend quality time with my spouse and children and do my share of work. 

The problem is that most of us think of our goals, which is like making an idle wish list, but we do not make a plan and we do not get down to the basic mechanisms of operating that plan. Once you have gotten down to the details of structuring your "new and improved" daily schedule and you feel you can live with it, you have joined the top three percent of people who do follow up on their resolutions.

Return to Self Help 

Copyright 1996, Mind Publications 


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