Friday, December 16, 2011

Goals - Guaranteed to fail

I have a bad history with goals.  Secretly, I feel like if I vocalize a goal, write it down, tell Leila about it, that pretty much is the end of that endeavor.  I have thought a lot about that this last week.  And the end of the year seems to loom larger to me than Christmas right now.  That and I am procrastinating finishing Christmas gifts.

My friend Erin wrote this year not on the goals she had, but the person she wanted to become over this next year. I love her goal to get "some swagger."  I love this idea and started writing a list of the things I want to become over the next year or the things I want to learn or do.  But they all distill down to daily, or repeated action, that end up not being sustainable, and I quickly drop them for short term time fillers.  If my goal were to watch Jon Stewart every day after the kids go to bed, I guarantee I could do it for a year.  If my goal were to read a SciFi book a week, you could bet I would do it.  Instead I, like most people, try to make goals that are good for me, and apparently I don't really want to do those things, or else I would, right?  I like sweets.  I love watching TV.  I don't really like to exercise. Apparently I don't like to read my scriptures every day, another goal I fail at repeatedly.

I envy people who have the strength of will to keep up a daily, good-for-you activity.  While thinking about how to make myself build good habits and improve myself, I stumbled onto a blog category of 365 day projects.  There are a lot of photo-a-day blogs.  The link is to a metasite that compiles these blogs; I bet Kodak's film department head curses the development of digital cameras every time they look at such a site. That is a lot of pictures, beautiful pictures.  I found a series of eat-better/local/organic/vegetarian-for-a-year blogs, many inspired by the book, "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle," which I read a few years back.  Here is another about a family's experiment of a farm for a year that turned into their life.  When I was searching for a list of blogs to write about it became a game to find a phrase and add "for a year" to it and see if such a site/blog existed.  For exercize buffs: Running for a year, yoga for a year,  or go the otherway with Daily Mcdonalds aka Supersize Me.  How about a "book a day for a year" - yep, someone has done that.  "No environmental impact for a year", someone has tried that too.  The list could go on and on.

Am I building up to making this blog a record of my Jon-Stewart-watching-every-day-for a year goal?  No,  but I do want to find a way to motivate myself to do the daily work that is required for many goals.  As Juma Ikangaa once said, "The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare. " I had that on a poster on my wall when I was 16.  I felt like I accomplished a lot of things that year.  I practiced every day.  I read my scriptures.  I fell asleep doing homework most nights.  I was a stress case though.

My goal for this year is to build good habits.  I would like to be the sort of person that can do something good, every day, even if it is hard.  I think I will try to find something small that I can do everyday, and I will try to report in periodically, but I will not inflict 365 days of blog posts to it.

As a postscript, I ran into a website of poems compiled by the US Poet Laureate for a poem a day, that I couldn't help sharing:


Charlotte said...

I came across a "Slow-cooking for year" blog once. I thought to myself, "I would HATE my mother if she cooked only experimental crock pot recipes every day for an entire year." Ha ha.

At the same time I've never had a better blog following than when I did a photo a day.

My goal for 2012 is simply to chill out and make sure if I'm going to freak out that it is over something that truly matters.

Christine Merrill said...

I was reading this, thinking of how I got into the habit of flossing...I knew it was good for me, and would never do it until sometime, when I was a young college-ite, someone told me I had bad breath once, and then I heard something the next day about how flossing will solve a lot of breath problems. I immediately started flossing, and now am totally in the habit. I marveled that something that had been sooo hard for me was suddenly second-nature. I decided it all came down to finding the right motivation. Cavities? Not a good motivation. Social life? Good motivation :) Sad, but true...

Brian G. said...

I was actually going to link to that same slow cooking blog. My blog following is pretty small right now as it is.

Anonymous said...

I use that slow cooking for a year website all the time because she has gf recipes and yes my young one hates it when that is all I do. When thinking of new years resolutions, I think about lent on the off chance I can delay making a resolution. The best suggestion I ever heard for lent was giving up negative thinking....can you imagine... Aunt B

Anonymous said...

Hello Brian. You wrote, "I envy people who have the strength of will to keep up a daily, good-for-you activity."

Really? I have always thought of you as the most self-disciplined friend I ever had. When we were ninth-graders together in Boise, you were a) taking harder classes than I was and maintaining a higher GPA; b) holding down a paper-route; c) acquiring formidable violin skills; d) running a mile faster than most people could; and e) getting up at the crack of dawn for religious education classes. Last but not least, you were an outstanding best friend. That's quite a lot of "daily, good-for-you" activities. Having read this blog for years, my impression is that your pace has, if anything, increased.

Blessed Advent and Christmas.


Brian G. said...


As a recovering over-achiever, I always have wanted to do more and more. There are a number of things that I have started and not finished recently that really nag at me. I was consistently running this summer, ran two races and then have slacked off. I haven't run for two months. The other is that I need/want to become proficient in coding statistical analysis in SAS or R for work. I bought a number of books, but haven't studied in them since Thanksgiving. Things like that. I have chores and home repairs building up that I need to finish also.