This time last year, I cracked open a new journal and turned the page in a new calendar. I opened documents and drafted posts and wrote lists with new pens in pretty colors.
Of course I did. How else would I capture my resolutions for the new year?
Sometimes, it’s true, I write tasks on my to-do list simply for the pleasure and accomplishment of then crossing them off. But in general I make lists because without them, I don’t know what I’m doing or where I’m going or why on earth I shouldn’t spend my hours reading ridiculous novels and watching reruns on the couch.
And when it comes to the more important things in life – my goals, my dreams and my responsibilities – I know the only way to get started and get anything done is to write it all down.
Looking back on my goals for 2011, I can only conclude that I felt good last January. I felt ambitious and capable and determined. I resolved to do many big things, many important [to me] things. And now that another twelve months have passed, I’m forced to evaluate my progress.
- Lose a lot of weight
- Run a half marathon
- Run a 5K
- Write a book proposal
- Read the entire Bible
- Go on monthly dates with my husband
Hmmm . . . let’s see. I don’t really want to talk about the first one, and as you can see, I revised my running goal to 3.2 miles instead of 13.1. I did work out for several months on a regular basis (uncommon for me), but when it came time for the 5K, I walked about three of those 3.2 miles. I didn’t write a book proposal, and I stopped reading my One Year Bible a few months into the year. And those monthly dates? I haven’t stopped to count, but I’m pretty sure they didn’t happen more often than they did.
But is that the only way to look at my goals and the progress I’ve made?
I hope not. Because the picture I’ve painted so far is one of failure and disappointment. And that’s not really a good way to start a new year. As I examine my past year and what I’ve accomplished – or not – it’s easy to focus on tiny bits and pieces of giving up and it’s too hard and I just can’t do it. What happens, though, if I look at the whole picture?
- I see that, for the first time in my life (or at least since I was a teenager), I exercised on a regular basis. And while I had tons of amazing support from several friends, I did it on my own. Most often in the mornings, which – as some of you might know – are not my favorite.
- I remember that even though I didn’t run for miles at any point in time, I did run. I did run.
- And while I didn’t write a book proposal, despite the not-just-one-but-two e-books I bought about writing book proposals, I did write an e-book.
- I didn’t read the entire Bible, but I joined a Bible study at our new church, worked on verse memorization with my daughter and am looking forward to reading the entire New Testament this spring.
- Twelve dates would not have seemed like a lot a few years ago. But now that babysitters, night shifts and a number of other road blocks are part of our everyday marriage, it’s hard to make it happen. My husband and I keep trying, though – and we did spend time together several times last year. (I can’t decide which is the more significant part of this resolution – that we keep trying or that we succeeded in part. I think I’ll just be satisfied that I have two things to be happy about!)
A few months ago a good friend asked me a simple question that has really altered the way I think about my goals. She said, “What if you redefine success?”
Redefining success doesn’t mean giving up on my goals or cutting myself so much slack that I never change or move or act. It doesn’t mean throwing away dreams or resolutions. What it means to me is looking at the individual steps involved in each of my dreams and setting out to do the next thing. And even if that next thing is not a best-selling book or a 100-lb. weight loss or a marathon medal around my neck, as long as I took that step, then I’ve succeeded.
My goals are pretty much the same this year as they were last year (including the ever-present “remember to floss every day,” which has plagued me my entire adult life). But this time I’m going to count it success every time I take one of those small steps or do the next thing.
Did you make resolutions last year? How did you do? Can you count the small and large successes as you make your way toward your goals?