As the first month of 2015 comes to a close, I am renewing my resolutions for 2015. Notice I did not say my New Year’s Resolutions. I want to disconnect my resolutions from any particular day. Instead, I want to succeed, not fail, so I’m reframing the idea of making resolutions by setting out goals for shorter periods of time, goals I can measure as success, instead of milestones that I am bound to fall short of.
For example, instead of setting a milestone of walking at least 10,000 steps per day, a number that I have seen over and over as a reasonable goal for healthy living, I’m setting an achievable goal – one some might consider too low. But my own experience indicates my goal is doable and beyond what happens in my normal day. My goal is to walk at least 3,000 steps at least three times a week until it is so customary that I need to increase it.
Three-thousand steps may not seem like a lot. And back when I was commuting from my home to the office, it wasn’t. I walked from my house to the bus stop, from the bus stop to the Metro station, from the Metro station to the office, and I reversed this pattern on the way home. I was at 3,000 steps even if I didn’t move from my desk. But I did move from my desk, several times a day. I walked from my desk to the conference rooms where meetings were held. Sometimes those conference rooms were in another building so I walked between the buildings. When I wanted coffee, I had to walk to the kitchen or even all the way to the cafeteria. I even walked around to see people and chat about what is going on in their lives.
But now, my commute doesn’t even register on my Fitbit. I guess it requires a minimum number of steps to begin counting and the distance between the bedroom I sleep in and the bedroom I work in doesn’t get there. And now, when I join a meeting, I pick up my cell phone and dial a number. My sweetheart brings me coffee and breakfast in the morning, a mid-morning snack with tea, and then lunch at noon. Total steps walked each work day: 0.
At the beginning of 2015, I determined I would set renewal goals, the goals that I could renew or reset periodically instead of starting out with the end in mind without regard for the path to get there. But I foolishly set what I thought was a modest goal in January – 5,000 steps per day. Since that is half of the number I kept hearing should be the goal, that seemed modest. But not when the daily living minimum is right there at under 100. And that meant I was failing every day. So my goal for the month of February is 3,000 steps per day at least 3 days a week. I’ve already gotten more than 3,000 steps in three days this week, and I have the rest of today and all day tomorrow to do more. That’s success!
There are some overarching principles for my renewable resolutions:
- Do what is healthy and avoid what is not.
- Do what honors and respects those around me and avoid what does not.
- Do what protects and supports my family and avoid what does not.
My other renewal resolutions must fit within those principles
- Eat what is healthy for me every day.
- Cut down on what isn’t healthy to eat at least three days a week until it is so customary I need to increase the number of days.
- Do something that engages my mind – read, write, complete puzzles, play games – every day.
- Keep all my activities in balance, even if it means abandoning one of the renewable resolutions on a given day if it risks breaking my commitment to the overarching principles.
No more resolutions to lose weight. When a number is the goal, it is too easy to do things that are unhealthy.
No more resolutions to write a novel by the end of the year. Novels are made up of chapters. Chapters are made up of pages. Pages are made up of paragraphs, and paragraphs of sentences. I need to start small and celebrate the successes not start big and fail each day.
I don’t need those resolutions because if I focus on my renewable resolutions, I will be doing what I need to do, within a framework and in balance, to get me to the goals I otherwise will fail at.