I depart from my typical haranguing on crisis management to lend a hand to the bad rap of the New Year's resolution.
For years now I politely listened to smug do-gooders going on about how they're above engaging in the practice of setting goals for the coming year.
If you listen to the resolution-haters, we resolution-makers are a forlorn lot; apparently we should develop our objectives throughout the 52-week cycle rather than engage in the inane exercise of making the end of year a time of reflection and goal setting.
Message to the resolution rebels: get over yourselves.
Organizations and individuals everywhere are evaluated on achievement during a defined period.
Companies are measured against annual revenue targets.
Non-profits set yearly fundraising goals.
Sports teams are defined in terms of yearly success (seasons), e.g. 2012 Super Bowl Champions.
Students are judged annually in what we commonly refer to as grades.
So what is wrong with writing goals for yourself and then evaluating your performance against those targets at the end of a set period of time (i.e. 12 months)?
Sure, I monitor my progress throughout the year. Of course I develop ambitions throughout the weeks and chart new direction as I see fit -- course corrections. But that doesn't mean that using the calendar year as a milestone -- time to reflect -- time to plan -- is a bad idea.
My preference is to set positive goals, e.g. compete in another triathlon. But that's not to say that those who instead set a target to lose 20 lbs. are in the wrong -- whatever works for you.
Not that you asked, but I like to establish goals in four categories: business; health; family; personal.
I fold a piece of paper in fours to develop the four quadrants. There I scribe what I hope to be achievable but challenging objectives.
New Year's Eve morning is a time to look back on the piece of paper from last year, kept next to my bed -- 2011 edition now tattered from many months of use -- regularly unfolded for review and reflection.
The afternoon of December 31st is goal-setting time. What do I want to accomplish in the coming year?
Ideas don't just magically materialize . . . I've been thinking about this for months -- might even have a head start on a few resolutions likely to find their way onto the sheet for the coming year.
Obviously some of this rant is tongue-and-cheek, but I do grow weary from the high-mindedness of the outspoken critics of resolution making.
One of the keys to being successful is establishing targets and measuring your progress against milestones.
The beginning of a new year is as good a time as any to set your sights on what you hope to achieve. Three hundred sixty five days is a perfectly acceptable amount of time to use as a benchmark.
For me, 2012 was a great year in most every way. Looking back over the last 12 months and measuring my progress against objectives leaves a smile on my face and motivates me to reach even further in '13.
If it is not cynicism that keeps you from the resolution process but rather the futility of it all, might I offer a few unsolicited tips:
• Write down your goals
• Make them challenging but attainable
• Keep them close so that you can regularly review
• Share a few of your goals with friends and family, ask people to hold you accountable
• Think in terms of what you want to accomplish rather than punishing yourself with what you want to stop doing (e.g. run a 5K instead of stop eating cupcakes)
For those among you who still refuse to lower yourself to such a puerile endeavor: keep your "I don't do resolutions because I am better than you" opinion to yourself -- please.
Happy New Year to all; I look forward to continuing the spirited discourse in the coming year.
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