As with the start of any new year, January often gets our minds focused on making changes. During the month of January, we usually refer to these desired changes as “resolutions.” For the rest of the year, we most often call them “goals.” That got me to thinking: What, really, is the difference between a resolution and a goal? Google sent me on an interesting adventure of reading blog after blog and article after article in an attempt to find a clear and precise explanation. I picked up a few points from my reading that I’d like to relay.
1. The distinction between goals and resolutions is a pretty muddy one. While some people are of the opinion that the two are as different as night and day, others are of the opinion that the two are as different as a couch and a sofa. I decided that my research on this was ultimately inconclusive unless I really wanted to dig into some serious resources, which I didn’t.
2. Most people seem to agree that resolutions rarely are kept longer than a few weeks. Some of those same people have concluded that greater success is achieved by setting goals rather than resolutions. I’m not convinced this is true given how many people don’t see a real difference between resolutions and goals to begin with.
3. Whether something is a resolution or a goal and whether we should set resolutions or goals is a moot point. Rather, the important thing to focus on is moving forward. This was, by far, my most important finding.
One blog entry in particular got me thinking about the importance of moving forward. It brought my thoughts back to an exercise we did in elementary school. Our teacher placed a sheet of paper in front of us. At the top, in big, black letters, it said: My life in 5 years. Halfway down the page it said: My life in 10 years. I decided to let my imagination revisit those questions, now in my late 30s. What would my life be like in my early 40s? My late 40s? I really didn’t know. Life takes so many twists and turns, to guess at what my life would be like years down the road suddenly seemed like a pointless waste of time.
Dissatisfied, my brain reorganized the question into one that struck a chord with me: Would I be happy in 10 years if my life was the same as it is today? Now THAT was worth answering. And without so much as a second thought, my whole being gave a resounding NO. Don’t get me wrong—I have a good and enjoyable life. But who wants their life to stand still, never moving forward? We all have the desire to become better people, to achieve more, to find greater happiness, and so on. To stagnate for the next 10 years sounds absolutely horrifying! Yet, if decisive action isn’t taken, if goals or resolutions aren’t made and achieved, the chances that my life in 10 years will greatly resemble my life today are astounding.
Quickly I whipped out a pen and some paper and started jotting things down—things I had to change, things I had to start doing, things I had to stop doing, things I had to accomplish. The list spanned all aspects of my life. I came back to it several more times throughout the day—adding, deleting, editing. I came up with way more goals/resolutions than I could handle, which was good. It allowed me the opportunity to really analyze the list and decide what was truly important to me, scratching off the less worthy items. I’m not going to share my entire list with you, but I will divulge a few items from my work-related list that can easily be tweaked to suit any of you readers.
1. Dress for work. Now, if you work in an office, this item likely looks rather absurd to you. However, working from home continues to grow in popularity, and for those of us who have come to enjoy spending all day in our pajamas or sweatpants, this one simple goal/resolution could greatly affect our success at work. By treating our home office with the same respect and seriousness that we would treat a company office, we cause our mind to maintain proper focus and drive, thus becoming more productive and successful at the task at hand rather than being distracted by the home-life we’re surrounded by.
2. Empty the inbox. If you’re like me, your email folders are fairly well labeled and sorted and there isn’t some insane amount of read email sitting in the inbox. At first glance, it all looks relatively under control; that is until you look more closely at what IS still left in the inbox and realize that every. single. email. is red-flagged for immediate completion or reply, some of which date back
several months! I know I’m not going to overcome my procrastination tendency at one fell swoop, but by taking smaller steps, I will be able to tame the beast progressively over time.
3. Begin and end each workday with something positive. Think of the workday as a conversation. Greet it kindly and with a smile. This might mean shaking off a struggle encountered prior to work and deliberately looking for something positive to focus on (beautiful weather, a hot cup of coffee, a picture of family above the computer—not anything elaborate, just something small that warms the heart). While the rest of the ‘conversation’ may or may not go as well as expected, don’t let a difficult workday have the last word. End the workday the same way you started it—kindly and with a smile—before leaving the office.
4. Leave work at work, except the good parts. It’s easy for us to take home all the negativity we experienced at work and vent to our family or friends about it the first chance we get. Instead, we should direct our energy toward the positive things, even if those things are limited to what we started and ended our workday with. Imagine the difference that could be brought to our life if our thoughts and conversations focused on what went right instead of what went wrong and what we’re grateful for instead of what plagued us.
Be it January or any other month, we can make big changes in our lives if we just remember to take small steps in moving forward!
Do you have any goals or resolutions you’re trying to implement? Tells us what they are and how they’re affecting your life in the Comments below.