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New Year’s resolutions – Thoughts after 3 years

For the last three years I have set goals/resolutions/targets at the start of each year. I have surprised myself as I managed to complete more than I expected. Maybe because I have not aimed very high.

So what are the benefits of setting New Year’s resolutions?

bicycle leaning on a fence

My old bike parked for a morning tea break while on a longer ride as a part of the cycling goal.

Well the first is that each goal has a life of just one year at most. So, I have not made any commitment beyond that and this takes some pressure off. I decided to read a book each fortnight a couple of years ago. I no longer feel compelled to do that now. However those twelve months were long enough for me to see the effects and to form a habit. While I no longer feel compelled to read I have continued reading regularly. The defined time limit appeals to me as I like the idea of dividing life into phases.

Another benefit is that once I have those tasks on the list that need to be done, such as house maintenance then I don’t feel guilty about not doing more later that year. The problem with house maintenance is that it is never ending. So the goal is as much about limiting the amount of work on the house as it is about getting tasks complete.

Previous successfully completed goals

Some goals I successfully completed over the last few years are:

  • Renovate the bathroom
  • Start a blog
  • Pave a small pergola area
  • Install solar electricity and solar hot water systems (not a lot of work needed by me on these ones)
  • Start cycling again and go on at least one 16km ride each week
  • Read 26 books in a year

Funny, they were much more impressive in my mind than they now look written down. There was lots of minor stuff too so perhaps that’s ok.

The downside?

They don’t all get done. In fact I don’t seem to be able to complete more than one or maybe two larger goals per year. It is usually the most important ones that I start at the beginning of the year that succeed. Those that I plan to complete at the end of the year have the worst chance of success – possibly because I no longer see their importance or feel committed to them by then. It’s interesting that many of the minor ones were never achieved.

It’s easy to feel guilty about failure to complete goals.

Twelve months is a long time and life is short. Pushing myself to maintain a commitment to an activity for twelve months does not always seem worth it.

Opportunities that come along during the year such as the Computing MOOC that I am now doing can feel like distractions, when it is actually a great opportunity. In fact some of the things I have pleased that I have done where not on a goal list.

So what about next year?

I’m going to start next year with only one goal to do some maintenance on our kitchen. I am deliberately not setting any others. I’m going to see what happens if I don’t set any. I was inspired by this video on zenhabits, Tim Ferriss vs. Leo Babauta Showdown: On Whether Goals Suck.

I think life at my day job is going to be quite challenging next year, so I want to keep the stress levels down.

Will I end up achieving as much or even more at home? Or, being happier? I’m looking forward to testing it.

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