When it comes to resolutions, black sheep have all the fun

Posted by in Productivity

When it comes to resolutions, black sheep have all the fun

It’s 2011, and the world at large is yet again foisting the well-intended premise of New Year’s resolutions upon us – which means it’s a good time to remind yourself that your own expectations matter more than those of others.


Here we go again


It’s an odd ritual, really. Come New Year’s eve, you’re more or less expected to have at least one – preferably considerably rotund and hairy – goal that will change your life for the better in the year that is to come. At best, this could be described as an arbitrary manner in which to approach the improvement of life in general.


At worst, due to the excruciatingly superficial manner in which New Year’s resolutions are chosen and executed, it may evoke something very malicious indeed: the loss of the ability to remain optimistic concerning the ability to render a considerable, positive impact in one’s life.


Such optimism is painstakingly created through establishing a string of smaller achievements, as opposed to carving goals which are rendered unattainable due to insufficient consideration for whether they truly represent what we want and how to achieve it.


Still, it touches something very deep in us all. We yearn for betterment; to improve; to have more – or even to be more. We want to wake up with a smile in the morning – perhaps for the sake of others, or simply for our own, personal benefit.


These desires are why people hop on the resolutions bandwagon – which would be a good thing, except most partygoers end up facing backwards and without a pair of reins.


Quit dancing to the beat of other’s drums


On a general basis, New Year’s resolutions really don’t change that much, do they. Stop smoking. Start excercising. Lose weight. Get out of debt. Learn something new. Get organized.


Let’s for the sake of argument say you skip the crucial process of contemplating what is truly important to you, and just choose one of the above goals because everybody else seems to do so. If you achieve this goal, well-intended as it may be, would it bring about true change in your life? Perhaps – yet, most of them share a remarkable similarity with the superficial trappings that are supposed to represent success as perceived by western culture.


I’ll tell you what: we’ll step things up a notch. Pull up a chair, imagine I’m sitting in front of you, and try to convince me that achieving your goal ensures in no small part to plastering a satisfied smile on your face the day you realize you’re just about to kick the proverbial bucket.


You see, that is what a big, hairy goal should do for you.


The cheat sheet for getting resolutions right


Resolutions aren’t an annual excercise in futility; they’re a lifestyle. First, you need to increase the chances that your mind and matter will support you fully in your quest for your glorious goal. This is achieved by shutting out the world for however long is required for you to deduce the very top priority. A nifty little trick is to list what your gut suggests as the three best candidates, and argue out loud for why one is better than the other.


Then there’s the issue of execution. Unfortunately, our mind and matter were not built with the intention of implementing large changes in a frictionless manner. Perhaps it’s a survival instinct – who knows. The only thing you need to know is that you must cheat yourself, and you must cheat yourself well.


With most major changes comes the establishing of new habits, which is key to succeeding. Depending on personal preferences and personality types, there are several common approaches; no single one is right for everyone. The only universal constant in this process is to construct an external system in where your brain is not responsible for reminding you to do what you must do and when and/or for how long you must do it.


The rest is up to you. I suggest a reward system, or alternatively a punishment system if you believe you react better towards the risk of losing something of importance should you fail to comply. Above all else, however, keep things simple or you’ll increase your threshold for execution.


Lastly, keep in mind that creating long-term change requires dedication and perseverance, and a good understanding of the importance of failing as a means towards success. Confront yourself with your expectations every morning when you look at yourself in the mirror, and remember that these are more important than those of others.


Be the black sheep. It’s rewarding.


The simple summary


[box]Everyone has expectations for you. The world at large, work, your family and perhaps even your friends. These are not important. Yes, you must participate, but do so on your own terms; if you are happy and energized, every other aspect of your life will benefit – including the above mentioned. Make resolutions a lifestyle and cheat yourself into achieving them, and your inner geezer will owe you eternal thanks down the road.[/box]