I’m normally all about setting some goals when the calendar changes, but this year I just couldn’t get into it. I’m tired of watching myself set goals, fail to attain them, and then hate on myself for it, and with Baby B taking us into uncharted territory come May it just didn’t seem worth it.
This year I’m chucking every piece of advice I’ve ever read about on goal-setting and instead am simply resolving to do better today than I was yesterday.
I know it’s maddeningly undefined, but what I love about it is that it’s a bottom-up rather than top-down approach to change. A person setting a goal toward change will typically say something like, “I want to lose 15 pounds,” and then live in a constant state of frustration and tension until that goal is achieved. Any day the goal-setter isn’t straining toward that end feels like a failure. (Well, this is my goal-setting process, at any rate. It tends to be a shame-soaked, messy affair that inevitably ends in disappointment.)
This year, instead of comparing my current self to some future idealized self, I am going to compare me today to me yesterday. Did I drink two cans of Coke yesterday? No need to beat myself up! I can just drink less today.
Haven’t worked out for the last three years of my life? Instead of starting to train for a marathon to make up for it, I’m just going to try to walk more today than I did yesterday.
Could only memorize half of the Bible passage I tried to memorize last week? No big. This week, I’ll finish another sentence or so.
I was trying to keep my resolution to do better today than I did yesterday, but instead I stayed in bed all day watching Netflix and now feel like a useless bum? Tomorrow I’ll get out of bed and instantly be a winner!!!!
I love that this approach relieves the pressure of perfection and big overtures toward change, while keeping me in a steady growth rhythm.
After all, as Paul Tripp pointed out in his recent article on the topic, “. . .the character and quality of your life won’t be defined by two or three life-changing moments. No, the character and quality of your life will be defined by the 10,000 little decisions, desires, words, and actions you make every day.”
Instead of trying to reach some possibly-unattainable series of goals, or holding out hope that elusive happiness will finally be mine should I just be able to finally lose the weight/pay the debt/organize the room/learn the new skill, instead of beating myself down in an attempt to motivate myself forward, I’m hoping to celebrate each moment that I make a decision that inclines toward a positive direction.