One can always tell the time of year by the dominant color at the greeting-card stores.
Starting with Spring, we begin the pastel season. We advance without delay into the “red, white, and blue” period; followed by “Orange and Black;” with a brief flurry of “Brown, Red, Orange and Forest Green” in November. (The colors for the latter part of the year shift quickly because the “Red Green” season dominates everything.) We conclude this colorful journey with the “RED!
RED! RED!” season, a period into which we are now firmly ensconced.
Aside from romance, this time of year also sadly signifies a type of break-up; the ending of well-intentioned resolutions proudly and honorably stated just four short weeks ago.
I have never been a big fan of resolutions. I’ve never done them; I don’t think I ever will. Don’t get me wrong; I absolutely firmly believe that making commitments and setting goals are essential if I want to direct the changes in my life. I also don’t have a problem in the world with making them in January. I mean, sure, why not? January’s as good as any month.
But that’s the point: January’s as good as any month. Why do we feel that if we “blow it” in January, we can’t reestablish them some other time? Why not put forth a “February commitment;” or honor the father of our country’s honesty with a “George Washington Day Promise;” or pick Valentine’s Day to state my “love-myself-enough-to-change” vows? Granted, they might sound ridiculous; but are those dates of any less value than January 1?
Choosing goals basically because it’s a “that time of year” (and that’s when everybody does them) makes us less inclined to achieve them. Why? Because they’re not driven by an inner aspiration, but rather forced by external dynamics.
Long-term change (does any other type matter?) must be borne from within, not pushed upon us by outside forces. Yes, external drivers, such as weighing a certain amount, not fitting into your clothes, crossing a landmark age, going through a break-up, or losing a job; can be powerful triggers. Each will get you moving, for sure. But, once the initial pain has diminished, so does the drive to continue the very behavior which caused its dissipation.
In order to get beyond doubt and achieve life-changing objectives, it is imperative that I do it for ME, not because it’s a certain time of year, or my doctor said to, or because everyone thinks I should. I must move forward because it truly matters to me in my core. In other words, I do it because I want the results of my efforts, not because I am told to change.
So, if you’re finding that flame of January has faded cold chunks of coal today, and you wish to move forward, ask yourself three questions:
- “What’s ONE cool thing I will get from this effort?”
We usually give up not because we don’t want our goals, but because we lost sight of WHY we wanted them.
- Next, what’s ONE small step that I’d actually do to achieve that benefit?
Remember, small steps done regularly get better results than large one done intermittently
- Finally, will I do it TODAY?
If your answer is “No,” you’ve chosen the wrong goal. Be honest. Remember, goals are not to impress others; they’re to benefit you. If you’re not going to begin right now — for whatever reason — this is not your aspiration. Choose something else — which you can do any time of the year.
Editors note: This Time I Mean It Day is every February 15. Help us celebrate!