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Resolutions Are Made to Be Broken Why Your Values Should Inform Your Goals
Have you ever wondered why the vast majority of New Year’s resolutions are forgotten before the snow melts? As somebody who’s hopelessly addicted to goal setting, I’ve given the idea of resolutions a lot of thought. Ultimately, I’ve come to believe that failure to achieve your resolutions is not a result of lacking accountability; it’s simply due to the fact that resolutions themselves are made to be broken. In other words, making resolutions is a flawed system. Instead of throwing your resolutions in the trash this March, start the year off by throwing out the concept of New Year’s resolutions entirely. As far as I can tell, there are two main reasons why resolutions fail, and they both have to do with obligation. First, we make resolutions because we feel like it’s what we’re supposed to do. Just like eating turkey on Thanksgiving and opening gifts on Christmas, we make resolutions on Jan. 1 because of tradition. Because they feel mandated, it’s easy to create them without much thought or investment, which is a recipe for failure. Second, the resolutions we make are usually things we feel we should do, rather than things we actually want to accomplish. If resolutions feel like homework, procrastination is easy. “Maybe resolutions work for you. If so, you don’t need to change a thing. But if you’re like most of us, you should set your goals differently this year.” I quit making resolutions a long time ago and instead searched for a better way to set my goals for the year. I’ve tried everything — systems, programs, apps, you name it. Like I said, I love this stuff, so I’m always on the lookout for the most productive and inspiring way to set goals. A few years ago, a mentor of mine introduced a method of goal setting that works well for me. The first key to this method is to NOT start by choosing goals. The goals should be the final piece of the puzzle, not the first. Start by making a list of your values and a list of your dreams. Try to limit each list to a maximum of 10 items and rank them in order of importance. Once you have these lists, you can set goals that will really stick. Your values and dreams should inform your goals, imbuing them with meaning. When you set goals that have nothing to do with what you care about in life, how likely do you think you are to achieve them?
After creating my personal lists for the year, I realized that my goal is to take a trip with my husband to one of our bucket-list destinations. It aligns with so many of my values and dreams that it’s obviously very important to me. We’re currently deciding whether that trip will be to South Africa or Australia, but wherever we choose to go, you can be sure it will be a momentous event for both of us. “I resolve to travel,” is something I never would’ve come up with if I made standard resolutions. I probably would have decided to lose 10 pounds, just like everyone else. In addition to making these lists for my personal goals, I also make them for my professional life and for the practice as a whole. In each case, the process of deriving goals is a learning experience. Investigating your values and dreams will tell you what your most pressing motivations are. From there, you can set goals that matter to you, which are much more likely to stick than a resolution you make for the sake of a holiday.
Maybe resolutions work for you. If so, you don’t need to change a thing. But if you’re like most of us, you should set your goals differently this year. You don’t need to use my method, but you do need to take the time to make serious, meaningful objectives. It will make all the difference.
– Dr. Stacey Raybuck Schatz
Professional Physical Therapy | 508-528-6100 • 1www.proptinc.com
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