The new year is supposed to be that time when you turn over a new leaf, stop checking Instagram, get in an exclusive relationship with kale and take over the world. I am all for it. All of it. Mostly. Ok, I’m for goals but not necessarily the kale thing. I know that resolutions get a bad rap, and I think it’s mostly deserved, but not because resolutions themselves are bad. I think that it’s important to have goals, but New Year’s resolutions are usually vague, ill-defined things that peter out when the initial excitement wears off. And since I work by myself on the vast majority of t
he time, I have gotten pretty good at figuring out how to set goals and keep myself accountable to making progress on those goals. So, in this post, I’m going to share a little about what works and also gift you my first playlist of 2020. (If you’re just here for the playlist, scroll to the bottom to listen. I promise I won’t judge.)
So first about goals, resolutions, or whatever – basically, it’s stuff you want to happen. I think that where people fail is that in their eagerness to get to the achieving part, they don’t think enough about the actual goal itself. To use a common example, just deciding to “get in shape” is not enough. You need to make it more specific than that, so that an outside person could assess whether or not you did it. Lots of people refer to making your goal S.M.A.R.T., which is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based. I am not “lots of people.” I have a couple problems with S.M.A.R.T. First off, I toiled for many years in a corporate office were we all were required to make these awful “S.M.A.R.T.” goals. For one, S.M.A.R.T. just reeks of useless corporate b.s. and it manages to both overcomplicates goal-setting and -keeping, while also missing the mark.
FIGURE OUT YOUR 'WHY'
I think that the most important part of setting a goal is figuring out why you’re setting it in the first place. The thing is, setting goals and getting started on them is the fun part. But eventually, you’ll get tired, your willpower will run out, and it will just seem easier and more fun to blow off your goal. We’ve all been there. Figuring out your motivation for doing the thing in the first place will help keep you going when it stops being fun. So figure it out. Why do you want to get in shape? Is it to be able to keep up with your kids/ dog/ weirdly athletic cat? Write that down and put it somewhere that you’ll remember it. Most of my goals are work-related, so when starting a challenging new one, I like to put a post-it on my computer so I can’t avoid it.
MAKE YOUR GOAL SPECIFIC
After you figure out the reason for your goal, make your goal specific. Instead of “get in shape,” make your goal to run 2 miles, 4 days a week, for example - something that could be measured. Then figure out how you’re going to measure it. Do you have a planner? You can check it off when you do it. Keep to-do lists in your phone? Also fine. Put it in your calendar? Whatever works for you. Just make the goal specific enough and plan to record it somewhere so that a stranger could figure out after the fact, if you completed it or not by looking at your records. If it’s a big goal, like getting a new job, break the goal down into all the component parts and then schedule those parts. For getting a new job, I would start by scheduling time to update your résumé and contact potential references.
PLAN TO OUTWIT FAILURE
Eventually, no matter what your goal is, there’s going to be a day you don’t want to do it. You’ve been chipping away at it for weeks, but one fine day, someone asks you to get margaritas after work. You fall off the horse and never get back on. Before that happens, make a plan. Now, no one can see the future, but think about your life and what could possibly stand in your way from achieving your goal. Pre-decide what you’re going to do if that thing happens and then stick to it.
This part is the hardest one for me. For people who do not have an inner asshole, it will be much easier. For us Professional Jerks™ it’s harder. You’re going to mess up. Don’t beat yourself up over it. TRY to treat yourself like you would your best friend, if she told you she skipped a workout, procrastinated on applying to new jobs, whatever. Acknowledge that you didn’t do the thing and then move on. All is not lost. Just do it tomorrow. The important part is just to get back to it. Don’t punish yourself by doing 4 hours at the gym or reading job descriptions until your eyes bleed. Just pick up where you left off.
I can’t work without music. Even if I am doing something I hate (hello Search Engine Optimization), it is easier and more agreeable with music. My fun thing is usually taking whatever dumb task it is and adding music. Another thing I do is reward myself. When I do a thing that was extra hard, I let myself have a little reward. Personally, I like video games, so I’ll schedule some video game time. Or I’ll eat a special dessert. You figure out your reward and dole it out when you hit your own milestones.
Now for the playlist. This playlist is titled "Because I’m Awesome" because it includes a fantastic song of that name and because the purpose of this playlist is to pump you up and keep you motivated. This was actually kind of a challenging playlist because a) I love depressing songs and have a large collection of them and b) motivation playlists SUCK. They’re usually full of terrible songs like “Don’t Stop Believin’” and “We are the Champions.” It’s actually the opposite of motivating for me because I just get angry about the lazy song choices and then I get distracted by mentally criticizing the songs. And since I am a self-employed jewelry maker and in no way a professional music critic, that is 100% not a task I should be working on. So, I filled this playlist with a musically diverse group of songs from artists from Beyoncé and Cardi B to the Viagra Boys and Lady Bri (and DJ Shadow and Cherry Glazerr and IDLES and so much more goodness). There’s a lot of differing music styles here, but I think it will work to Pump. You. Up.