There is an excitement in the air with the turning over of the calendar pages each January. New year, new start, new resolutions, new you.
I love setting and achieving goals year-round, and had the value of goals drilled into me as the child of a Franklin Planner Father. As a kid I learned about SMART goals, the importance of writing goals down, telling others about our goals in order to hold ourselves accountable, and checking back in every so often to stay on track and ensure progress toward achievement. I get a certain thrill from dreaming up new ideas and setting my sights high for the places I’d like to go, and dreams I’d like to chase.
This year I brainstormed a bunch of goals that feel very much more like goals than the typical resolutions. Goals and Resolutions are pretty similar, and I identify more with the idea of setting achievable, trackable goals than with a simple resolve to change that makes up some classic new years resolutions.
My first inclination was to do everything at once, and as I planned and pondered I realized I would do much better staying on track if I separated my goals for the year out a bit. So, I’ve divided them by quarter, and tried to keep it realistic and pretty simple.
I do have one overarching resolution: to quit caffeine. I also have chosen one word of the year to focus on: gratitude.
Here are my goals for 2017:
Q1. Take a stained glass class
Q2. Run a half-marathon
Q3. Take a guitar class
Q4. Handmake my Christmas gifts
In addition to these four main goals, I will be setting and working on monthly goals and sharing about them here. I think it is a good practice to be working on things all the time. Big things, little things, and things that will eliminate, slow down, and recenter life.
Also, I can’t write about my goals and resolutions without mentioning the importance of seeking fulfillment rather than achievement for a happy life. I know, that seems a little backwards after a post about setting goals for the new year. Here’s the thing, achievement for achievement sake is fruitless.
Life is not a game to be won and we should not be simply products of continual self-improvement. It is in the day to day, the working on, striving for, and journeying that we can find fulfillment…or not.
I listened to a podcast of Tim Ferris interviewing Tony Robbins a few months ago and was so struck when Tony mentioned that the worst piece of widely given advice is to set and achieve goals.
Wait. What? Setting and achieving goals is bad advice?
Yes, says Tony, if it is at the expense of living a fulfilling life. We are taught to go go go for what we want–or what we thing we should want, and so often come up short. Check all the boxes to realize we have been too stuck inside them to live the life we want.
He expanded on this idea of achievement vs. fulfillment by relating a story of Robin Williams (find this clip at 48:40). How he had started out as a driven young actor, set his mind to have a hit series, and did it. Then he wanted a family and children, and he had them. Then wanted to star in movies, and did it. Then wanted to move to some serious roles and win an academy award, and did that too. He wanted to make the whole world laugh and he did it. He successfully accomplished every goal he set his mind to and then he hung himself in his living room, showing poignantly that achievement is not fulfillment.
This podcast is also where I picked up my word of the year, gratitude. There is a point when Tony guides a short meditation to a memory of happiness and instructs you to be filled up by the gratitude of that moment. Then he explains how gratitude is the antidote for suffering and any negative emotions. When we are grateful, we feel fulfilled. It is a beautiful thing.
So, along with setting and achieving new, exciting goals this year, I will be focusing on fulfillment. Being present. Feeling grateful for the moments I’m given, people who support me, health I enjoy, and myriad of blessings that fill my life.
It’s going to be the best year, yet.