As Crew and I snuggled in my bed this morning, I brought up the topic of New Year’s Resolutions and suggested that we should set some family goals. His reply surprised me. He said, “New Year’s Resolutions are stupid. They only last for like one week.”
When did an 8 year old kid get so skeptical?
I’ve seen this same anti-goal mentality on commercials, Facebook posts and from family and friends. Many of us wonder, “Why set New Year’s Resolutions if it is very likely, almost guaranteed, that you won’t accomplish them?”
I’ll tell you why I believe setting goals is a valuable practice even if you don’t accomplish the goal. And I can make my case for goals with two words: PROGRESS and MOMENTUM
Setting and working on goals, even if you do not accomplish them, helps you progress and build momentum.
Take my sister for example, who set some New Year’s Resolutions in 2012 playing off the 20 in 2012. (Theme based goals! My kind of gal!) She wanted to lose 20 pounds, save $20,000 and read her scriptures for 20 minutes a day!
To be totally honest, I must report that she did not accomplish ANY of her goals.
Now this is where the skeptics chime in and say, “See, goals are worthless.” But this is where I step in and point out what she did accomplish. Austi did lose 10 pounds, save $10,000 and she read her scriptures every day of the year even if it were just a couple of verses.
Some would say that my sister failed because she did not accomplish the “20” part of her specific goals. But I look at it differently. Because of her New Year’s Resolutions, she lost 10 more pounds than she would have, has 10,000 more dollars, and she had better scripture study habits. She made progress in three different areas of her life because she set some goals. She was better off at the end of the year than she was at the beginning.
I have seen progress as well with my goals. Although I did not eat 2013 fruits and vegetables in 2013 like I had hoped, I did eat a heck of a lot more produce than I would have otherwise and so did my kids. Croft actually asked for seconds on asparagus one night; Elle knows how to deseed a pomegranate; my kids often grabbed an apple when they were hungry; Locke drank a spinach smoothie and liked it, and I tried brussel sprouts 3 different times. Because I made our family aware of my desire and set a game plan in place, we made progress in the area of health.
In 2012, I set a goal to strengthen my finances and be more thrifty. I wanted to do an act of thrift a day. Maybe it was to use a coupon, or wash out a ziploc or eat in instead of out. I even recorded my acts of thrift for the first couple of months of the year. As you may expect, I did not do an act of thrift every day of the year and by the the end of the year, my savings account still wasn’t where I wanted it to be. I wasn’t couponing like mad, and there was still some debt to pay off. Some could say that I failed to strengthen my finances.
But because thrift was on my mind all year, I created a shift in my thinking and habits that carried into the next year. It was actually in 2013 (the next year) when I really started my zero based budget, when I went to the cash envelope system, when I established my emergency fund, when I paid off debt, etc.
So although finances had nothing to do with my 2013 healthy goals, I had built up momentum from my 2012 goals that carried its way into 2013 and beyond. Now Chad and I are looking at 2014 raring to go. We are headed into the new year with lots of financial momentum that all started from a simple New Year’s Resolution set 2 years ago.
After seeing the momentum of my financial goals, I am excited to see that same momentum with my health goals for 2013. I already know this year is going to be even more “healthy” than the last. I got a BlendTec for Christmas, and Chad and I joined a 30 days of green smoothie challenge. My sister started her own personal fitness business called Shine Fitness and she wants me to be her poster child 🙂 I will participate in her 90 day challenge. Thanks to my health “to do” list, I got going in yoga again and have been going faithfully. Just by moving more, I am now looking forward to adding other exercises to my weekly routine. My health goals of 2013 haven’t produced any real tangible results this year, but I see the momentum already going into next year.
So don’t be afraid to go into the New Year with some goals – even its trendy to be skeptical or realistic or apathetic. Know that you likely won’t accomplish your goals, but you’ll be far better off a year from now than if you didn’t set goals in the first place.
It’s important to understand that goals are not all or nothing. Success or failure. Check or no check. Yes or no. Goals are an avenue to make progress and build momentum.
Happy New Year and Happy New Year’s Resolutions!