"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
― Søren Kierkegaard
Resolutions < Goals
Did you know that of the 60% of people who make New Years resolutions, only around 8% keep them? That 25% of people will break them in just the first week and 80% will abandon them by February?? I feel like these or similar statistics are thrown around a lot this time of year but many people aren't deterred. We think we will be part of that 8% and set lofty resolutions each year.
This year, like the last few years, I am not setting resolutions - I am setting goals. What's the difference? Well, goals are a plan to achieve something specific - resolutions are more of a permanent life change. Goal - I want to do yoga 5 times per week. Resolution - I want to lose weight. See the distinction?
Resolutions are also often framed in the negative - something you want to change, lose, do better etc. Goals are just another awesome achievement you can add to your already cool life.
How do you set a good, attainable goal? I have some acronyms for you, of course. Set a SMART BHAG. Whaaa?
A SMART goal is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Instead of "I want to lose weight" frame it as "I want to fit into my old jeans by June by attending yoga 5x per week and cooking at home 3x per week." Something like that.
A BHAG is a Big Hairy Audacious Goal. It's something created by Jim Collins more for business goals but we used the term in the teaching program I was in and it's always stuck with me. A BHAG is something long-term and kind of crazy. Don't be afraid to think big!
Importance of Reflection
Before you set some goals for 2017 I'm sure you will spend some time reflecting on 2016. The goals you made, what worked, what didn't, and what you want to change in the new year. Reflection is so important - not just at the new year - but every day!
Reflection is the deliberate structured thinking that you do about your choices. It is an intentional attempt to synthesize what you've learned from an experience. A Harvard Business School study found that reflecting on a learning experience leads to better problem solving due to a greater perceived ability to achieve your goals. This perceived ability builds confidence (self-efficacy) and makes you better able to learn from mistakes, produce ideas, celebrate success, and help others.
Reflection is the best way to change your perspective on a situation and ultimately be happier with your experiences. An easy way to reflect is with daily check ins like these from Joris Toonders.
Daily Check In:
Ask yourself these two question in the morning:
1. What are my goals today?
2. What are my challenges today?
Then ask yourself these in the evening to reflect:
1. Have I reached my goals for today?
2. What have I learned today?
So simple! Try it!
Choosing a Word
Albert Einstein said "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler." So along with setting goals each year, I try to simplify by setting an overall theme for each year in the form of just one word. I've always known people who choose a word for their year and honestly thought it was pretty hokey until I tried it a couple years ago.
Choosing a word is a great way to keep yourself focused on what matters. In teaching we backwards plan or "start with the end in mind" meaning if you don't have a destination or idea of what you want to achieve it's easy to get off track. A word works this way. While a goal is specific and a resolution is more open ended, a word is just a guidepost. It's also simple enough to not be overwhelming.
So how do you pick a word? Well, I generally have an idea of the word that resonates with me or keeps popping up over and over but it's good to make a list. After you have your list, read the definition of each word, the roots, and the synonyms - you might find something even better. Then post your word up where you will see it every day, share it (if you want), and - consciously or subconsciously - let it guide you.
I think it's safe to say that many people are happy to see 2016 come to a close. This year has been a doozy for a lot of reasons and you only need to glance at a few memes (or this) to see why. But a lovely result of the "2016 is the worst" mindset are all the good things that have been showing up on social media. Friends have been posting the good things that happened to them, sharing lists of great discoveries, and heartwarming stories of goodness.
While I don't think it's healthy to ignore all negativity and live in a dream world of Pollyanna positivity - focusing on the negative isn't going to help anything either! Studies have shown that we remember negative experiences more clearly than positive because negative emotions involve more thinking and processing time. Basically, we ruminate on the negative and then it becomes bigger in our minds.
Researchers have also found that setbacks are twice as strong as positive progress in our memory and that a ratio of 5 to 1 good to bad things is what's needed to stay positive. Whoa. So play the glad game and look at all the pictures of baby animals, kids getting adopted, and families being reunited. Read all about the amazing discoveries made this year, the people who helped their communities, and others who achieved their goals. You need it!
Snow Erupting from Old Faithful?!
You may have seen on the news this week that snow seems to be erupting from Old Faithful - the famous geyser that erupts with boiling water every 74ish minutes at Yellowstone National Park. Well, there is snow in the air but it's not what is erupting. Hot water actually freezes faster than cold water and it's so cold (0 degrees Fahrenheit) that the water almost immediately freezes when it hits the air. So cool.
Happy Friday :)