Dreams, Goals and the New Years Resolution Fallacy.

I was never really a big believer in the whole New Year’s Resolutions thing, mostly because the goals people were setting seemed far too vague for my liking. Sure I can appreciate the fact that you have aspirations to improve your life in certain ways but using lofty ideas like “Lose weight” or “Get a better job” leave a giant gap between reality and the place you want to be. Whilst the New Year is a great time to look back and reflect on the past year it shouldn’t be the only time you’re making goals for yourself, and once you make the shift from setting large, almost unachievable goals to small incremental targets the progress you make can seem quite astounding.

It seems to be trendy these days to say you don’t make resolutions but I’m not sure what the reasoning behind that is. I can understand the motivation that a new year’s resolution will more than likely fail (88% according to this study) but what I don’t usually hear from the same people is “these are the goals I have for myself”. So in essence whilst they may appear to be more intelligent on the surface for foregoing the futile exercise of setting themselves a resolution to stick to they fail to make any achievable goals for themselves. This I believe is the heart of the problem.

I put new year’s resolutions in the same category as dreams. The reason they appear to be unobtainable is because they are so far from your current situation that the path towards them is extremely unclear. However if you take a modular approach to breaking them down into smaller and smaller pieces you’ll find that although there might be a lot of work to get to them, they’re far from unachievable. It was thinking like this that lead me to coin the phrase:

When one of your dreams comes true you start to look at the others more seriously.

It also comes down to a fear of change that many of us hold. There’s potential with any change for it to blow up in our faces and the fear of this can lead us to avoid making any real progress in our lives. However, as author Tim Ferris points out in his book the 4 Hour Work Week (currently reading, review pending) it is most likely that we’re afraid of the unknown and when we set out to define it you will usually find there is nothing to be afraid of. Again it comes down to breaking down whatever problem or dream you might have down into manageable chunks that can be achieved in a short timeframe. Nothing is more motivating than success.

I guess the whole point of this post boils down to is this: make goals constantly and use the new year as a time to reflect on all your successes and to gauge how far you have come. Everyone is capable of great things and the sooner we get out of the trap of pushing our dreams away for sake of the status quo the sooner we can all live our dreams.

Maybe this is why my parents always called me a hopless dreamer 😉

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