The seasonal controversy over the benefit of new year’s resolutions is in full swing. For those of you who don’t know me, I am a big believer in setting goals: identify a target activity and set a specific start date (and even a start time!). The idea of launching a new goal on the first day of the year can be refreshing and motivating. It embodies the saying, “out with old and in with the new.” In theory, a goal that begins on January 1st should be no different than a goal set on any other day of the year. But that is not the case. The pressure to maintain a goal set on the first day of the year bears a burden that reduces the likelihood of success.
As one year comes to an end and a new one approaches, we think of our lives in large, annual segments of time. A goal that is set within the context of a new year’s resolution inevitably becomes an expectation for the year ahead. We tend to focus more on the end goal than the process of getting there. Having a long-term vision of what we’d like to accomplish is important, but when we look too far ahead of today we lose sight of the smaller, essential steps that pave the way for us to achieve our goals. Each step of the journey is a goal in itself and must not be dwarfed by the magnitude of the vision.
So go ahead and set a goal for yourself. Get excited about it. But try not to look too far ahead. Whether you begin your journey on January 1st or any other day, start small and give yourself the opportunity to be successful.