Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I've Never Attained a Goal I Didn't First Write Down.

Here we are already 10 days into the new year and statistically speaking most of us have already broken at least one - if not all - of our resolutions. So, the question is, why do we make these "resolutions" when all too often what they really are is week-long goals? Why, year after year, do we start something that - statistically speaking - is near impossible to finish?

According to a recent post called Why New Years Resolutions Don't Stick, the answer is that we are neurologically programmed to like things that are comfortable; routines; neural grooves, as the article calls them. Don't worry, though, grim as it may sound, change is not impossible.We don't have to be stuck in the same old rut forever. We can set new neural grooves by simply doing things differently. Not just thinking differently, but by actually DOING differently. Simply put: developing new patterns.

And what does it take to develop a new pattern? I'm not a neurologist, and I suppose there are many elements involved to creating a permanent neural shift, but I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that perhaps at minimum, some kind of a game plan is necessary.

Game plan, you say. Some kind of order? Does this involve a list?

Now we're speaking my language!

I don't know about you, but I've never attained a goal I did't first write down. Sure, stating it out loud helps too, but there is a level of commitment and accountability that comes from writing it down. Simply put, an unwritten goal is only a wish. "If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time." (Anonymous)

Whether you call them goals, resolutions, or to-do lists, a random bullet list of items is simply no more than a random bullet list of items. If you plan to actually check off your list, here are a few suggestions:

  • Develop a plan. Set the goal, then figure out HOW you're going to do it. If it's health you want, how will you attain it? Will you go to a gym? Get a fitness coach? Consult a nutritionist? Kick your soda addiction? 
  • Make it realistic. Is it really healthy or wise to lose 50 lbs in a month? Can you really make a successful life-change over night? I'm a believer that you can do anything you want if you set your mind to it, but lets be realistic about it. Rome was not built in a day, and neither is anything else worth building, including a better self.
  • Set a timeline. "By such and such a date I will....  Then by such and such a date, I will further...." Timeline's make impossible seeming tasks feasible. 
  • Be accountable. If nobody knows your goal who are you accountable to? Yourself? Isn't that who you've been answering to for all these years while your bad habit developed? How's that been working for you? If you really want to succeed, find someone to help you be accountable. If you don't have someone in your personal life that you trust, there's a whole world wide web full of support groups out there! 

So, drum-roll please. I've made a list - shocker, I know - of the things I plan to work on for 2012. If you're interested to see how I plan to go about each item on the list or to see my progress, check back in the coming days and weeks and I'll break them down into more detail.

And now, without further adeu, and in no particular order, here is THE list (condensed, of course, because as previously mentioned, I am the master of list makers!):
My 2012 Resolution Revolutions: 

  1. Read more, including works of fiction, self-improvement, and the entire Book of Mormon. 
  2. Spend more time with my family. They're a pretty goofy bunch and we have a great time together, so why don't we take more time to play? Kanasta. Camping. Fishing (okay, maybe not this one, since I tend to bury my face in a book while they fish). Four wheeling. Five Crowns, Greedy Hands, Phase 10... Movies. Plays. Sporting Events. Bike Rides. Walks. The list of thing to do is virtually endless.  
  3. Manage time better. This essentially means limiting my time on the internet. Facebook can be like a big, hungry, black hole. There are many valuable tools for marketing as well as a communication avenues for me to keep in touch with friends online, but really, boundaries need to be set. I plan to set daily time limits for email, blogs, research, advertising, facebook, and all other things internet dependent so that I can get to the bazillion and one other things that are on my list.  
  4. Get organized! Okay, so I know that not only is this cliche, it's also pretty vague. Those who know me best understand my need for organization. I'm not just someone who claims to have OCD, I've actually been clinically diagnosed (Hahaha, now that's a story I should share sometime.) But, when you share a home with 5 other people, unless you spend your entire waking existence picking up after them, things tend to get ruffled. My specific list of organizational needs includes: the office, storage room, garage, and our finances!  
  5. Finish the plethora of household projects that someone continues to create. If that particular someone wasn't my very life blood, I might have to consider strangling her! But, the words "project" and "Stephanie" are synonymous. The particular projects for 2012 are: (1) Finish finishing the basement (sew curtains, make bench cushions, install cabinets, build bookshelves, and touch up paint). (2) Design and build a shed. (3) Finish our water feature and fire pit! 
  6. Create my very first "Honey Do" list so my honey can help with the plethora of projects that someone will inevitably add to throughout the year. - Nuf said. No explanation needed. 
  7. Take care of ME! Spiritually, mentally, physically. - This is a hard one, because as mother's we tend to put ourselves last. But, really, if we don't take care of ourselves, who will? 
  8. Develop a healthy relationship with my body. Create and maintain a sustainable exercise habit, learn more about my individual nutritional needs (because, believe it or not, we are not all created the same), and learn to love the lady in the mirror. 
  9. Sleep better. This means quality as well as quantity. At least 8 hours without waking up at ridiculous hours would be great! Rise earlier. Retire at a decent hour. Find a way to mentally disengage so my mind will let me sleep.  
  10. Learn more about marketing. I'm sooooo not a marketer - I'm a creator. But, I'm also a perfectionist and a sponge for knowledge, so learn I must, and learn I will. 
  11. Increase my contacts. Build more friendships.
  12. Write more. Period. Write more! I set a goal to finish three manuscripts by the end of March. Hindsight tells me this is probably a bit ambitious so instead I am shooting to finish at least 2 in that time. By years end I'm aiming to add another 2 to that list, for a total of 4. This is huge for me. I don't always prioritize my writing - it did, afterall, take me about 2 years to write "Hope's Journey". 
  13. Focus. Hahahahahahaha. Funny, coming from a gal who's brain is going about a million miles an hour in different directions. 
  14. Prioritize. This kind of encompasses everything on this list. If I'm going to pull it all off, I'm going to have to prioritize. Remembering that the important things aren't always the tangible ones is going to be the key here. 
  15. Don't stress what I can't control. I probably should post this particular goal on my wall somewhere that I'll see it daily! I've come a long way in learning the difference between things I can control and things I can't, but frankly, the knots in my neck would testify that I've still got a ways to go. Mentally, this is a concept I grasp, but physiologically, I struggle. I am hardwired to want things neatly bundled, organized, and under control. I will breath my way through set backs and let disappointment roll off my back! In and out. One day at a time. 


  1. This is a great post and I love your resolutions. They're all things I need to work on, especially the get enough sleep one, as you can tell since I'm writing this comment at nearly 1 a.m.

    Wish I could have met you at the signing last week. I was sad our times didn't overlap by even a minute.

    Good luck with your resolutions and hopefully, sometime this year, I can be one of your new contacts (friends)!

    1. Thanks Karey. As you can see by how long it's taken me to respond to this, I've already started working on the limiting of my internet time. I've committed not to get online all weekend (or holidays when my kids are home.) Baby steps, I tell myself! :)

      I was really sad that I didn't get to meet you too. If there would've been an inch more space around that tiny table, I'd have stuck around. FYI - I loved, loved, loved "Gifts"! Not only does it have a beautiful cover, it is an incredible story. I've not been real good at posting book reviews, but I am going to do one for "Gifts" - it's just too good to not share!

      We definitely need to do some signings together. And, at the risk of sounding creepy, I already consider you one of my friends. I love your blog - especially the posts about your missionary since my son is getting achingly close to that age & it's recently become so real to me.


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