Life is full of opportunity. At the beginning of every year, I find myself - in line with cultural tradition - making goals for what I will do in that New Year. As I look back on past goals made in previous New Years’ settings, I see a lot of ambition, but not as much follow through. I see too many opportunities to be able to pursue them all, and too many uses of time that distracted me from my other goals.
Each year, I accomplish a few things, or half of some things, or a little bit of others, but I have never yet accomplished all of what I sought to do in a year. However, as I look at the reasons why, there are often quite a few other meaningful opportunities or uses of time that came up.
In some years, family sickness took a lot of time to address. In others, new job opportunities came that required a complete shift in time and that had a whole new learning curve to them. The many unplanned challenges and opportunities made it difficult to consistently stick to all of my goals. Some were completed; others, not quite, while there were also many unexpected opportunities as well.
As a church going person, one of the reasons I attend church is to be taught and reminded of things that I should be doing in my life; things that I believe make my life and the life of others better. One day, while sitting listening to what was being said, the person teaching mentioned something from a lesson a few weeks ago and asked a question about it.
I tried to remember what was taught the previous week at church. I tried to remember what lessons were taught a few weeks ago. I honestly could not think of anything that was mentioned. Church had simply come and gone through my mind, with no noticeable change in my life or actions.
As I reflected on the New Year's goals that I rarely accomplished to my inability to remember a church lesson from the previous week, I decided that I wanted more noticeable change in my life than just each year, but that a week-to-week change is likely too much for me to manage. While I wanted to have church helping to shape my life and wanted to find ways to better remember what was taught, I knew that it probably wasn’t realistic to see a change in my life every week.
While change is often incremental and needs more than one week to become a complete change, I didn’t want my check-ins on goals and accomplishments to be only yearly.
So, I made a new resolution, one that I have really enjoyed – I started working on New Month Resolutions.
Each month I set a few goals related to things that I want to do physically, socially, intellectually, spiritually, at work, etc. I try and make the goals realistic by looking at my calendar that month. If I know that I will be up early many mornings for work, I may elect to have a goal of just doing some simple type of exercise, like pushups, if I won’t have time for a better aerobic exercise. It will at least keep me in the habit of exercising and is better than nothing.
Each month I can look back at what I wanted to do, set new goals (or keep some of the same goals to keep working on), and continue working towards things in more incremental steps than yearly goals give me.
And, I discovered a great way to stay motivated on these monthly goals; I include my wife and children in the goal setting. We have a sheet that we print out each month for us and our kids and we each set our individual goals as well as goals that we want to accomplish as a family. This has helped motivate us to invite neighbors over for dinner, fix up rooms in our house, exercise together, and a variety of other activities that have benefitted us and that are based around what is taking place that month.
Our kids earn a little money for each goal they accomplish in a month, and the family gets to do a fun activity together if we all achieve the goals together. These simple rewards have produced incentives for even our 5-year-old to work on his goals each month.
The New Month’s Resolution is a much more manageable way for us to make and pursue goals, meaningful change and improvements than a New Year’s Resolution. They focus on our current needs, are more adaptable to the various opportunities that come, and give us a way to better measure growth and progress.
This is simply a helpful way I have found to pursue growth and improvement in my life. There are plenty of tools to do so, but the simple fact is that happiness and satisfaction in life come from work, progression, and good relationships with others. Goals and monthly resolutions are a way to help us accomplish and pursue the good things that life has to offer.
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