It’s New Year’s Eve, the day of celebrating, wearing party hats, and sharing New Year’s resolutions. New Year’s is a time of hope for the future. Unfortunately, that hope is often short-lived and quickly forgotten about midway through January.
Why New Year’s Resolutions Tend to Fail
Lately, I have not been very fond of the concept of setting New Year’s resolutions. A year can be an overwhelming period of time for pursuing any one goal. More than that, the concept of New Year’s resolutions is hardly personalized. It is something we do because it is conventional, not necessarily because it works. New Year’s resolutions probably do work for some, but I know from personal experience that it is easy to set goals on New Year’s Eve that don’t even have a fighting chance come February.
There is so much to do in our lives. There is so much that is left undone from year to year. We are busy, and we have so many obligations and expectations we feel the need to fulfill. Our long term goals might get relegated to the back burner as time moves forward, leaving our hopes and dreams in the dust.
An Alternative Method for Managing Personal Goals
This year I started to develop my own personal system of productivity on the foundation of my hipster, which is my personalized planning system. I have replaced the idea of creating New Year’s resolutions with my seasonal review. My seasonal review is scheduled to happen four times a year, generally coinciding with the beginnings and ends of the four seasons. This is my personal time to reflect on my progress on goals for the previous season, and to revise and create new goals for the upcoming three months. I am already amidst pursuing my goals for the winter season, so the idea of setting goals for the entire year on December 31st is no longer relevant for me personally.
It is good to pursue long term goals, but I feel that three months is the longest unit of time a chunk of a project should be given. Let’s say you have a large project to complete and a year in which to complete it. I think it would be better to break it up into four sections to be accomplished within each of the 4 three month periods of time within a year. So rather than just saying “I am going to lose 50 pounds this year”, perhaps a better approach would be something like “I intend to lose 10 to 15 pounds over the next 3 months”.
The Thinking Behind the Three Month Rule
Several years ago when I felt absolutely buried by work-related projects that I did not feel equipped to handle, I was reading Julie Morgenstern’s book Shed Your Stuff, Change Your Life, and she made the suggestion to dedicate no longer than three months to whatever it is that is so far backlogged that it seems that there is no end in sight. In other words, whatever has been hanging over your head and causing your life to feel heavy, give yourself no more than 3 months to deal with it and move on.
Unfortunately, I think I might not have followed this advice at that time, but I can now proudly say that I do. I hate the feeling of having a backlog of to-do items crushing down on me. This is the premise of the seasonal review. I don’t want to let anything drag out unreasonably beyond three months, with the exception of projects I anticipate will take longer than three months to complete. Even then, I plan to proactively designate which portion of the project will be completed during which season.
I strongly believe that each person must find their own system that works for them. If setting New Year’s resolutions every year actually works for you, I would love to hear how you go about keeping yourself motivated and on task throughout the year. I have found my seasonal reviews as my way to hold myself accountable for the tasks that come into my life, and have created time points throughout the year for my seasonal reviews that make sense to me personally.
However you stay on top of your own life only needs to make sense to you. If you have come up with your own system for achieving personal goals throughout the year, we would love to know about it. Please share your thoughts! Namaste.
image credit: SimplyMint