In this column on Setting Values-Bases New Year’s Resolutions, I’d like to combine my article into Stress Buster Tips 4 and 5. Every year around this time I like to remind readers to take a moment and reflect on the previous year and start thinking about the coming one. This is the starting point for making New Year’s Resolutions.
The word resolution is derived from the root resolve and means to solve by changing, converting, or dissipating. In the case of New Year’s Resolutions what most people try to change, convert, or dissipate are bad habits or unhelpful behaviors. For example, when you make a resolution to “start exercising,” you are really saying to yourself, “I want to stop being so sedentary.”
Another way to look at resolutions is to view them as promises of new beginnings that set new directions for the coming year.
Regardless of what the so-called experts have to say about goals, most successful new beginnings start with setting goals and objectives that break tasks down into specific action steps. Framing New Year’s Resolutions as values-goals and objectives that can be measured makes them much clearer.
The biggest problem I’ve seen regarding New Year’s Resolutions is that people often base them on what others value and think they should resolve to do. Resolutions that are based on what other people value, rather than what you value, are doomed to fail.
To counter this, I suggest your resolutions revolve around your values. New Year’s Resolutions that focus on your values-based goals chart your course for the coming year and set the direction you want to take. When you make New Year’s Resolutions to please others you set yourself up for a miserable year filled with doubt, guilt and stress. When you plan a course of action based on your values, and the direction you want to move in, you are taking steps to live the life you want and deserve.
The second-greatest problem I see regarding New Year’s Resolutions relates to their focus. Most people think their resolutions have to be problem-focused. Nothing could be farther from the truth. You don’t have to make resolutions about problem areas and the things in your life that are not working well.
Why not start 2020 by resolving to enhance some aspect of your life that is already doing well and that you want to make even better.
To make values-based resolutions you need to spend a little time thinking about your values and how to use them to set goals that shape the direction you want your life to move in over the next 12 months.
Stress Buster Tip # 4 My Perfect Day
One simple way to identify your values and the directions you want to move in is to construct your perfect day. In other words, if you could plan a perfect day, what would your criteria be?
What kind of work would you be doing?
Where would you be living?
Who would you spend it with?
Other than work, what other activities (read, write, cook, make love, etc.) would you engage in?
The answers to these questions represent your Daily Life Criteria (DLC) for a perfect day. They also reflect what you value most in life and what your goals should reflect.
List up to ten Daily Life Criteria for a perfect day:
What are the values these DLC’s reflect?
What directions do these values move you in?
How does your typical day compare to your perfect day?
What is standing in the way of you meeting these criteria for having more perfect days?
I am grateful to Gregg Krech and Linda Anderson-Krech of the ToDo Institute in Monkton Vermont for teaching me this activity and preparing me to share it with you (www.todoinstitute.org).
After you clarify your values, think about how you could combine them to create a direction you’d like to move in. For example, when I did this 5 years ago, most of my daily life criteria revolved around the beach, being outdoors, and scaling back the number of hours I wanted to work each day. This got me thinking about downscaling and cutting monthly expenses to be able to afford this lifestyle shift.
Stress Buster Tip # 5 Writing Values-Based Goals and Objectives
It is essential that you write your goals and objectives down. This allows you to go back at the end of the year and measure them to note your progress. Make sure you write objectives that you have a good chance of meeting. If your goals or objectives are too lofty you probably won’t meet them, and this will create more stress.
One way to control this is to write measurable objectives. A measurable objective answers’ the question: “Who, will do how much, of what, by when?”
Goal: “Form my own new business.”
Objective: “By the end of March 2020, I will have submitted all of the forms necessary to form my new business.”
The who in this objective is YOU, the how much is SUBMITTED ALL OF THE FORMS, the of what is TO FORM MY NEW BUSINESS, and the by when is END OF MARCH 2020. To assess your progress check back on April 1st and see if you submitted all of the forms.
Step 1. Pick one of the values you identified in the “A Perfect Day” activity.
Step 2. Describe how this value currently influences your professional and personal life.
Step 3. Write one personal or professional goal that is related to this value.
Step 4. Write three measurable objectives related to this goal.
Periodically (for example, daily, weekly, or monthly) review the progress you’re making in meeting the objectives you set for reaching your goal. If you’ve written them correctly, all of your objectives should include a time frame.
After reviewing your progress, it is OKAY if you decide to change the time frame or add or delete an objective. While goals and objectives help give your life structure and help you clarify your values, they should also be flexible enough to adapt to changes in your personality and your life.
I suggest that you start with a simple goal, something that you can accomplish this week and will help you start moving in the direction you want to go in. By keeping the goal simple and the time frame manageable, you have a good chance of accomplishing it.
Setting Values-Based Goals is one of the many techniques I use to help people rethink their stress. Rethink is one level of defense from my Five R’s of Conquering Your Stress program.
Until the next time remember to Stress Less, Live More.