Setting Goals and Making Resolutions. Realistically, This Time
Photo: Traveling-light. Used with permission.

Did you set any New Year’s resolutions this year? How’s that working for you? I’m of a split mind when it comes to those things. You may have seen those pictures of the gyms on January 1, chock full, and then two weeks later, it is empty. It’s easy to say you want to do something, but another thing entirely to take the action to do it. But why do all these New Year’s resolutions fail? Why can’t people follow through on them? Are they plain lazy? Do they not care? Are they just shooting their mouths off?

Well, maybe, but I know so many seemingly hard-working people who make resolutions, only to fall off the wagon a few weeks later. Heck, I’ve been one of them. Maybe part of it had to do with being lazy, but I think more of it has to do with goal-setting. Not all goals are the same. Some are destined to fail before the person even begins. There are a couple of ways, however, for you to set goals that are more likely to be achieved.

1. Make sure your goals are under your control. As much as we wish it were so, you can’t set a realistic goal of “making my kids behave.” You can’t force them to behave, because that is not 100 percent under your control. You shouldn’t have a goal to be rich, or to find Prince Charming, or to get a promotion. All of those things involve, at least in part, someone else’s decisions or actions. Even if you do everything you possibly can, there is no guarantee that the other person is going to hold up their end. More realistic goals are: Write a book, be kind, become more social, suck up to the boss, or spend more time with family. If you definitely want to help your children be more responsible—that’s under your control. There are steps you can take to help them. You can make a goal to practice archery, but if you set a goal to win all the tournaments, you will probably be disappointed.

2. Make those goals measurable in some way. Have some way of measuring your progress. This can be walking steps taken, miles bicycled, words written, places gone, hours gamed. I could say, “My resolution is to write more this year,” but unless I have some sort of measure, how do I know I’ve written more? Also, if I don’t have a measured goal, it’s easier to put it off. “Yeah, I’ll write more. Later.” A measurable goal will also give you a finish line to strive for. Want to keep your dining room clean all year? Progress on that is easily seen.

3. Set goals incrementally. Sometimes it is best to have planned steps to get to your goal. Divide the year up into quarters so your goal isn’t so huge. Re-evaluate things as time goes by and make sure your goals and the steps you are taking to achieve them are still realistic. Instead of saying, “I want to have an immaculate house,” you can set milestones. Living room first, then in two months, try to keep your living room and dining room tidy. Add your kitchen…

Above all, make sure your journey through the year is enjoyable. Yes, of course, some parts of attaining our goals are painful. But keep the joy in it by having a clear vision of your goal, and know that every day, you are getting closer to it.

Setting goals isn’t just for the New Year. You can start striving for something you’ve been wanting right now. Best of luck to you!

Melanie R. Meadors is the author of fantasy and science fiction stories where heroes don’t always carry swords and knights in shining armor often lose to nerds who study their weaknesses. She’s been known to befriend wandering garden gnomes, do battle with metal-eating squirrels, and has been called a superhero on more than one occasion. Her work has been published in Circle Magazine, The Wheel, and Prick of the Spindle, and she was a finalist in the 2014 Jim Baen Memorial Science Fiction Contest. Melanie is also a freelance author publicist and publicity/marketing coordinator for both Ragnarok Publications and Mechanical Muse. She blogs regularly for GeekMom and The Once and Future Podcast. Her short story “A Whole-Hearted Halfling” is in the anthology Champions of Aetaltis, available April 12, 2016.