Preparing for Our New Years’ Resolutions: Making Our Goals Work for Us

This is the First in a Series of Articles on Goal Setting

by Make The Days Count Contributor Philip Wood


Back in Chicago for my first winter in nearly twenty years, I’m faced with the harsh reality that I am about to abandon one of my oldest goals.  Shortly after leaving the City all those years ago, I vowed never to own a winter coat again.  I woke this morning to a temperature of 8 degrees.  Although I considered the notion inviting, hibernation does not appear to be a realistic option.


I’ll have to buy a coat today.

Thankfully, the mild weather held longer this year than most.  I am grateful that I have been able to stall the inevitable parka purchase.  I’m grateful as well that my youthful boast stood for as long as it did.  As the weather changes and snow begins to pile up, my snow gear stall reminds that it’s the time of year for procrastination.  In a few short weeks, 2008 will become 2009 and many of us will make New Year’s resolutions.

Between now and then, we will tell ourselves that our new goals must wait until after the holidays pass, until school starts again, until our New Year’s Eve hangover clears, or whatever excuse for delay fit’s the season best.  It has often occurred to me, when I realize that I’m procrastinating, which delay rarely serves anything well.  “Do it now” rings in my head at those times and, more often than not, I do. 


Apparently, except when it comes to buying a winter coat.


My task here is not to scold myself, or anyone else, for waiting to set new goals for a new year.  Rather, my aim is to offer each of us an excuse for waiting three weeks to lose weight, stop smoking, exercise more, save money, read more, get a new job, or discontinuing self-immolation.  Since we are determined to hold off on our resolutions, my holiday gift to you is the rationalization for the delay.  We are not stalling, dragging our feet, or procrastinating.  Instead, we are preparing (see also Powerful, Life Changing Affirmations).


Preparing for our New Year’s resolution requires that we examine our new goals carefully to ensure that they are productive in nature, properly set, measurable, realistic, timely, challenging, written in pencil, and not in conflict with other goals or values that we hold dear.  As part of that process of procrastination … er … preparation, I will offer a series of posts over the next several weeks sharing my thoughts on goals.


Somewhere along my way, I read: an excellent year was simply a stretch of fifty-two great weeks placed in a row; a great week was no more than seven consecutive good days; and a good day would likewise be a collection of twenty-four good hours strung together.   The simplicity of the logic resonated with my when I first read the words and has held since.  I do not believe, however, that excellent years, great weeks, or even good days occur accidentally.  I do believe that the first step in the first good day of the first good week of the excellent year is visiting the goals prepared prior to that day.


It is my firm belief that what may be most important about goals is their effective use.  By effective use, I mean to suggest that goals are merely tools.  With all tools, it is helpful if we understand them before we utilize them.  This will be the aim of the posts that follow.  Goals work for us when we set and utilize them properly.  As tools they provide direction and steps along our way.  They provide aim and measurement.  When properly set, managed, evaluated, maintained, and adjusted, our goals work for us rather than us working for them.

Some resolutions, however, cannot wait for the New Year.  I’m off to buy a coat.


“In the absence of clearly-defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it.”

-Robert Heinlein

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Posted on 8 December, 2008 in Balance, Goals, Making the Day Count, Productivity
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One Response so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Sydney O'Brien
    December 9th, 2008 at 4:47 pm #

    Philip – I like where you are going with this post. Especially goals as tools and their use. I think you are right that it doesn’t do any good to make goals if we aren’t considering why we are making goals and why we need them. I’m not big on new years resolutions, but I am on goal setting, so I am looking forward to more articles.

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