Over the years, I have made New Year’s resolutions. Even set up Excel files, notebooks and calendars to achieve all my lofty goals. I went so far as to include all the S.M.A.R.T. goal issues: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely.
And every Christmas as I clean out my office for the new year, I find the resolutions I made 365 days previously—all unachieved.
My body still retains an additional 20 pounds, my mastery of the piano is below elementary, my Spanish and French remain negligible, and my organizational skills can only be called disoriented. So why can’t I get my act together year after year when it comes to improving myself? Because my wardrobe fits my body; Carnegie Hall is doing just fine without my piano solo; no one I know could speak to me in French or Spanish; and my organizational skills are subject to my dyslexia which subverts even the best filing systems.
But this year I have decided to set resolutions that won’t just help me, but will make the world a better place. I’ve even followed the S.M.A.R.T. procedure!
RESOLUTON #1. Smile more each day. This can be measured by the number of people I get to return my smile each day. It’s easily attainable without sweating, tights or equipment. It’s realistic because I know how to do it already. And, I can start doing it this very minute.
The Reward: It makes me and other people feel better.
RESOLUTION #2. Don’t spend time in anger. This is a little tougher because we have all mastered the art since we were children. However, it’s a waste of the precious time we have on earth. So . . . it is specific—stop the emotion of anger and then think! It is measurable by the time wasted when we could have been happy. (Some arguments last days!) It is attainable (with some practice, a little sweat, and a few grinded teeth) if you just follow Goal #1. (Nothing deflates an argument faster than a smile.) It is realistic because people who do it are happier than people who argue. It is timely because I can start right now thinking about all those folks who piss me off and plan a strategy for turning it around.
The Reward: It lowers blood pressure, saves a lot of hot air and nasty thoughts, eliminates “if I’d only said” conversations with myself, and puts me in control of my life.
RESOLUTION #3. Be kind and supportive to others. Remember that everyone is as confused about life as you are and they could all use a kind word—even if their words to you aren’t so kind. This doesn’t mean we have to devote ourselves to their financial or emotional well-being, but having someone think they’re okay is one of the greatest gifts we can give others. It’s measurable by the number of times I feel good about myself for helping others. It’s attainable because it requires minimal energy and no money, lessons or tests. It’s more than realistic—it’s proven time and time again that kind words help the world. It’s timely because I can help someone else (and myself) in the very next conversation I have with someone.
The Reward: Instant gratification and membership into the world of decent human beings. (And it works with spouses, family members, friends, co-workers and complete strangers.)
RESOLUTION #4. Don’t take anything said or done to you personally. It is perhaps the most important and hardest to master, but it’s the most important one we can do for our overall happiness. It is specific because it pertains to how you interpret the words and actions of others. People do and say whatever helps them get their needs and goals met. This may include them telling me to do things against my best interest or saying things just to make themselves feel better. It is measurable by the number of times I don’t get my feelings hurt or have my actions manipulated by others. It is attainable because it only requires that I stop believing everyone else knows more about life than I do. (Everyone is as screwed up as I am and maybe more.) It is realistic because once you realize you have been taught who you are and who you should be by others up until now, you can see the world differently. It is timely because you can start this minute to teach yourself to be who you want to be by realizing that almost everyone else is using you to get what they need, not what you need.
The Reward: A life that is controlled by me, not by everyone else in the world.
I think I’ll be happy when I check my resolutions at the end of 2016.
Tell me your resolutions in a comment below.