Motivational Monday: Make Goals not Resolutions


‘Tis the season to reflect on the past year and look forward to the year ahead. Although the fresh start only physically comes by tacking a new calendar to the wall, I still get excited about the prospects of a new year. It is what you make it, right?

I’ve asked a few of my friends about their new years resolutions and most looked at me and laughed. This is the problem with resolutions—they urge us to join gyms, wake up at 5am, or start reading Infinite Jest or Gone With the Wind or Atlas Shrugged. And then slowly, without fail, we find ourselves back to sleeping in, choosing Netflix over the gym, and making it to the third paragraph of page 117 by the end of January.

Only 10% of people who make resolutions keep them, and here’s why: we expect them to fail. I say enough! Let’s go into 2017 with goals we intend to keep.

I recently read Grit by Angela Duckworth. She makes her case about setting an “end goal.” Yeah, she says, you need to have top-level goals, the crème-de-la-crème of all goals—your purpose, your mission, your passion. And then you need to work down from there. What would need to happen right before you achieved your end-all goal? And then what would happen before all those things need to happen? And so on until you retreat to where you currently are (for me that’s sitting in a coffee shop) 😉

I made some top-shelf goals for 2017. I want to send a 5.12d and project a 5.13. I want to finally run a half-marathon. I intend to publish and get paid for it. I want to learn basic navigational skills and complete my AIARE 1, WFR, and SPI. And my list of places to ski and climb is long, varied, and expansive. But before all those goals are smaller ones, like spending three hours a week writing. Researching and nailing down a training plan for climbing (and posting it to my blog). Making reservations for those different courses and hut trips and climbing excursions.

We can’t expect writing our goals down and talking about them to be enough. It’s a good start, but our lives won’t change because of it. Trust me, I continually learn that the hard way. Instead we need to realize what it is we want, and the teeny-tiny-baby-steps it’s going to take to get there.

Cheers to 2017, my friends! I hope it’s the most productive, actualizing year of your life!


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