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Making Realistic Goals for 2018

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Shaun, Hespeler | December 1, 2017

As a life-long homebody and self-proclaimed holiday curmudgeon, I have no great love for the New Year’s party tradition. I typically attend New Years’ parties out of a sense of duty because it’s what people are supposed to do for fun. To me, New Year’s Eve is the eccentric uncle to Christmas. It starts off presentable, sometimes even classy, but as the evening progresses it gets louder and more obnoxious, and by 1:00 everyone has had more than enough until next year. 

There is one part of New Year’s that I like though – making resolutions with friends.  Resolutions have a bad reputation these days for being short-lived. So many well-intentioned goals are abandoned just weeks or even days into the New Year. Even so, I have a special affinity for them. To me they provide a brief opportunity for reflection and growth as a person. 

In 2012, I started a tradition of coming up with three small, specific, achievable goals every year. The idea is to make small changes that will last. If you make enough small changes over time they turn in to something bigger and possibly more significant. For example, I have significantly cut back on the salt in my diet (I have a major weakness for the stuff) by limiting or completely eliminating certain salty offenders like ramen and french fries.

If you’re interested in making small permanent changes, you’re best off coming up with your own personal game plan, but here some tips to get you started:

1.  Keep it small

This is key. Huge changes such as cutting out all sugar from your diet are noble pursuits, but they require lifestyle changes and are often so challenging that they are abandoned before the year really starts.  Why not try cutting just pop instead of all sugar? Or even just the brand or flavour you drink the most? 

2.  Be specific

Being nicer, healthier, or spending less are common resolutions, but are not effective because they are subjective and vague. How do you measure something like “spending less”? How much less? Hundreds? Thousands? Pocket change? If you can’t measure it, how do you know if you have reached you goal? Besides, unclear goals are easier to give up.    

3. Have fun

Silly can be good. Partly as a joke, I made a resolution last year stating I had accept every third invitation to go out with friends. It was a good way for my friends and I to have a laugh at my quirks, but it also carried some meaning. I know it sounds silly, but it helped establish a pattern to start breaking me out of my homebody ways.

4. Include your friends

I typically will make resolutions with whoever is around at midnight. We turn it into a sort of game, taking turns sharing how we think our resolution will make us slightly better people and brainstorming goals for each other. The benefit of making it a social process is you can give each other feedback and encouragement. You may even find you have some resolutions in common.

This January 1, 2018 at 12:01 a.m., I encourage you to think about the year ahead and consider making one small change you could pursue throughout the year. Need a suggestion? How about visiting your local library at least once a week. That’s a good start.

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