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Set Goals, Not Resolutions

·825 words·4 mins
How to foster personal growth and actually put ideas to good use>

How to foster personal growth and actually put ideas to good use #

The end of December is usually the time of year when people make New Year’s resolutions and end up regressing by the time February comes around. Given that 2020 was essentially a drunken oaf with a gun, and 2021 already looks like something that crawled out of the sewer, maybe it’s time we do something different. The more sensible of us will be spending more time indoors dealing with our inner demons anyway, so one of the best things we can do is to set clear, tangible goals.

The Goal>

The Goal #

Goal-setting is not an easy task. The main difference between a goal and a resolution is that a goal needs to have a plan attached so that you can actually meet your target. A resolution is nothing but a declaration, which looks good, sounds good, but has no substance. The first thing to do when setting a goal is figuring out what a goal actually looks like. Let’s take a common example: losing weight. A resolution would sound something like, “I resolve to eat healthily and lose weight this year”. In contrast, a goal would be “I need to lose 2 Kgs by March, 5 by June and 8 by September”. Do you see the difference? Whereas the resolution was vague, the goal actually had some tangible figures you could measure progress against. You can use the information in the goal to make a plan: set an exercise regimen, chart out a nutrition plan and follow-up regularly. Whereas one system requires belief, the other relies on cold, hard facts. You don’t need to set up ‘dream calendars’ and other such nonsense that people peddle: all you need is a plan and a willingness to follow up on it, refining it as you go along. Here’s a simple way to set a goal: I will achieve _______ by _______.

The Plan>

The Plan #

Now that you’ve set your goal, you need to build a plan. The best way to make a plan is to gather all information you have about the current state and ideal state of whatever you would like to base your goal on. Let’s continue our example of weight loss. Weight is just a bottom line. Many factors finally come together to calculate your body’s weight: your height, your BMI, the percentage of fat, the weight of your bones, whether you have steel-tipped work boots on. You will also need to factor in other contributing factors such as what kind of lifestyle you lead, how much alcohol you consume, the amount of sugar you add to your tea, and how much salt you sprinkle on your eggs. You need to gather all the information you can for your current state of being and other relevant metadata. Compile a database of where you currently stand. Now, that should help you calculate the state of being which you wish to transition into. Use your resources, do your research, talk to the right people and come up with a way to control the contributing factors to your weight. Once you do that, you have a plan, and all you need to do now is to follow up on the plan, which leads us nicely to the next phase of goal-setting: a retrospect.

The Retrospect>

The Retrospect #

When you set your goals, you set them up in an ideal world. Reality is often in conflict with utopia and as you go along, you would find that you need to look back at your plans and realign your goals with what you can actually achieve. This where a retrospect comes in handy. Once in a while, take a break and look back at how far you’ve come along to actually following your plan. Evaluate how well the plan has worked: whether you need to change anything or even tone down your target to something that is more achievable. Maybe following a particular diet or an exercise plan didn’t really help that much. Maybe your schedule doesn’t really allow you to give as much time towards your goal as you thought. Maybe you found a better way to go about things. These are the problems and changes that you can address in a retrospect. You don’t need to abandon your ideals altogether, but any progress is good progress and you need to be able to maintain balance so that achieving your goals doesn’t cause any undue stress on your mental well-being.

If you use Notion, or are looking up for an excuse to use Notion but haven’t found a project you can use it for, here’s a handy template for setting and measuring goals that I’ve found handy:

See you next year, and let me know how your goals are coming along!

Peace out and happy holidays! Chinmay