Oh, I am no stranger to the New Year’s Resolution, my friend. I know that I made them as a teenager, but the first clear memory I have of making a list was in 1998, in my fourth-floor walk-up in Uji, Japan, where I was serving as a short-term missionary. I was full of energy, passion, and drive. I sat down, made a list of ten goals, and free of a boyfriend, American TV, and other distractions, I lost weight, had daily Bible study time, cooked at home, and generally crushed it.
And then I got back to my real life, and over the course of less than a month, all those resolutions slowly unraveled. Not only did I break each and every resolution, I was actually worse off than when I started.
For years after that, I would make resolutions, only to find myself in February again, feeling guilty about the resolutions I didn’t keep. I think to myself, “Why is it that everyone else can keep their New Year’s resolutions except me?”
It’s taken me dozens of years to realize, maybe it’s not me. Maybe it’s the resolutions.
Resolutions are All or Nothing
You don’t get credit unless you’ve done the whole thing. You said you wanted to lose twenty pounds, and only lost seven? In resolution-world, that’s a big old failure. You said you would exercise five times a week, and you only are getting to the gym twice a week. Well, why go at all?
When your goals are all or nothing, 99.9% of the time, they will be nothing.
As humans, we need to see our progress and we need encouragement along the way.
When it Comes to Resolutions, Turns Out That SMART Goals for Life Change Aren’t That SMART
We’ve all heard about SMART goals. That our goals should be:
I use SMART goals all the time in my business, and for short term projects. But for lasting life goals? SMART may not be the way to go.
Peter Bregman, writing in the Harvard Business Review Blog Network, argues “When we set goals, we’re taught to make them specific and measurable and time-bound. But it turns out that those characteristics are precisely the reasons goals can backfire. A specific, measurable, time-bound goal drives behavior that’s narrowly focused and often leads to either cheating or myopia. Yes, we often reach the goal, but at what cost?”
So If Resolutions are Not the Answer, What Is?
Bergman says that instead of goals, we should be focused on areas of change. “An area of focus taps into your intrinsic motivation. It offers no stimulus or incentive to cheat or take unnecessary risks, leaves every positive possibility and opportunity open, and encourages collaboration while reducing corrosive competition. All this while moving forward on the things you and your organization value most.”
For over a year, my resolution has been not to make a list of resolutions, but instead, to create a personal manifesto.
A personal manifesto is a statement of your core values and beliefs, what is important to you, and how you plan to live your life. It is written in the present tense, even if not everything you state is one hundred percent true about you today, it is a declaration of what you are working to become.
So instead of a resolution that says, “I will lose twenty pounds this year,” my manifesto states, “I cannot buy good health. I must earn it. Daily.” Instead of short-term goals, I’m looking for lifetime growth.
I sat down and wrote my manifesto in about an hour. (As an author and speaker, I spend a lot of time mulling such things over in my day-to-day life already. So when it came time to put it down on paper, it was pretty easy for me.) But others can get stuck in the creation of such a personal document. That’s why our team has designed this download “How to Write Your Personal Manifesto” as our gift to you.
I can think of dozens of reasons to create your own personal manifesto, but let me give you my top three:
- There is no “Breaking” a Personal Manifesto
Yes – there are going to be days when you don’t live up to your own hope of the manifesto. That doesn’t mean that you throw the whole thing out. The personal manifesto has built-in grace. There is a recognition intrinsically within your PM that this is who you are becoming. Slow growth is still growth.
- Your Get to Dream (and Pray) Bigger With a Personal Manifesto
Resolutions are all about temporary changes. Lose weight, eat healthy, quit a bad habit. But a Personal Manifesto enables you to not just focus on the behavior, but on the person you are becoming, and who God wants you to be. Plus, you get to include others in your dreams, plans, and prayers.
In resolutions, you only get to set goals for yourself. In my Personal Manifesto, one line says, “I help others be world-changers.” To me, that’s a powerful reason to get out of bed and do life every day.
- Your To-Dos are Born Out of Your Personal Manifesto
Don’t think that with the Personal Manifesto you will walk aimlessly through life with no goals. Oh no. your goals, daily to-dos, and even your routines are all born out of your Personal Manifesto. In fact, you will be more focused with a Personal Manifesto than with resolutions, but the focus will not be born out of your self-will, it will spring from your heart.
Are you feeling Overwhelmed?Do you want to leave behind “out of my mind“ and move to “in control“? Me too my friends! Introducing my new book, with my co-author Cheri Gregory, Overwhelmed: Quiet the Chaos and Restore Your Sanity.
She and her husband Roger are the parents of four young adults in San Jose, CA. When she’s not dating her husband or hanging out with her puggle Jake, Kathi is speaking at retreats, conferences and women’s events across the US.
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