New Years Resolutions | Don't Make Lists, Make Plans

Try harder exercise cartoon shark on a treadmill.

Your list of New Years resolutions will fail. Exchange it for a plan.

Each year, millions of people make a long list of resolutions for the new year. As the new year kicks off, many do really well at keeping their resolutions…until the second week. Diet plans falter, exercise diminishes, and any plans to read the entire Bible fail once someone hits the first second of genealogy. Why do the good intentions of so many just fall off? Why do all these lists fall to pieces? Well, mainly because they’re just that – lists.

A list is great starting point, don’t get me wrong, but a list without a “how” will only be a list and not a plan. A plan is the strategy for defeating yourself into doing what you set out to do. So, while forming a list is helpful in figuring out where you want to go, it is essentially the bullet points to your plan. Here I will run through a few tips that may help you – and me – to stay on track to make some real progress in the upcoming year.

1. Make a list. Check it twice. Remove what seems stupid.
One of the pitfalls of the New Years resolution list is that some of the items on the list are not incredibly important to you. If you’re not psyched about every part of your New Years plan, the parts that you don’t feel like accomplishing will become the lose bricks in wall. If your goal is to get in shape and part of that is to run everyday when you don’t like running at all, when you don’t end up running, the other parts of that resolution will suffer. Just nix it and stick with what you’re actually excited to do.

Scratch up marked off to do list.

2. The How: Devise steps to make your resolution realistic.
Ok, you’re going to read a book every month! Sounds like a great goal and especially challenging if you’re an extremely busy individual. Before you know it, January is gone and you’re not past the first chapter. Suddenly, this resolution seems impossible, but it’s really because you never stopped to figure out how you’re going to accomplish this feat. Sit down and ask yourself an assortment of questions. Are the books I’m picking going to hold my interest? When exactly am I going to read? If don’t get as far in one week as I want to, how am I going to make up for it to make sure I’m on schedule? Once you’ve outlined exactly how you’re going proceed with your resolution, the more likely you’ll actually succeed.

3. Check back up with yourself. 
At work, your boss may call you in to his office to see how you’re doing. At college, you check your grades every so often to see how you’re doing. Why not be your own boss and check your own grades for what you wanted to accomplish? When you’re piecing together the nuts and bolts of your resolution, schedule in a time to check your progress each month. Go in and put it on your calendar each month for the entire year. Not only will this give you a chance to see where you’re going wrong before you spin out of control, but it will make you feel like a loser for not keeping up with your plans.

4. Pick out resolutions you can track. 
When I was on a diet, I remember one of the biggest motivations to keep going was to see how far I had already come. To weigh myself and count those numbers against last week’s numbers got me pumped to do well the next week. The more specific you are in your plans (but not forgetting rule 2.), the more likely you will be to stick with them as you have successes. If you’re on a diet, weigh yourself every week. If you’re trying to read more, tally how many pages, chapters, or books you’ve gotten through. If you’re trying to quit smoking, count the days you’ve gone without a cigarette.

LoseIt weight loss tracking graph.

5. Under pressure: share your plans with others. 
Nelson Simpsons bully haha ha ha.Do you know what it sounds like when you fail to keep goals that you’ve set for yourself, yet haven’t shared with anyone? It’s the sound of a Big Mac with fries getting eaten, the slurp from when you’ve finished that super-sized soda, and your own shame. Still, you can get over that. What happens when you share your goals with others and ask them to hold you accountable? If they’re your friends, it’s going to be loud and annoying. As a safety net, make sure you share your personal plans with a couple close friends and tell them to give you a hard time if you don’t hold up your end of the bargain. If a couple of you are forming New Years resolutions plans, you may form a group to keep each other accountable. Call each other up and give each other a hard time. Call each other names. Use peer pressure to your advantage and let your friends give you hell.

Because I want
to live up to my own rule, here is my New Years plans.

1. I want to lose between 50 and 60 pounds and maintain good dietary and exercise habits. 
Loseit lose it application app.At once point at my current height, I weighed 170 pounds. Currently, I am at my all-time fattest at a whopping 230 pounds. If I have to run very much, I become winded and even just a few hours of activity beyond my usual day (going to the skate park, etc.) leaves me sore for days.
The how:
Though this seems pretty crazy, it’s not when you think that I only need to lose about 5 pounds a month. That’s 1.25 pounds a week and 0.2 pounds a day. That’s not that outrageous. I will be using the LoseIt smartphone application like I have in the past to monitor my caloric intake and amount of exercise. I’ll also make an effort to take part in exercises that I particularly enjoy such as skateboarding and cycling.

2. I want to study a chapter of Tanach every day or at least 7 chapter a week. 

Studying Torah.

This something that I’m not especially proud to share with the world, but my studies has declined in the past few months. I usually study entire books in a week if I’m trying to write a paper or come up with a response to a textual argument in a debate I’m having with someone, but when there’s no motive, my spiritual academics is lacking. 
The how:
I plan on studying a chapter a day by either doing so in the morning before work, on my lunch break, or in the evenings. I will allow myself to skip a day and make up for it, but that will never go beyond a week. I’ll keep track of my studies using a spreadsheet on Google Drive

3. I want obtain and receive the proper training for use of a personal firearm. 

Revolver pistol barrel.

For how pro-gun I am, many people assume I have some arsenal of firearms in my house. Sadly, I do not currently own a single actual firearm aside from an airsoft pistol mostly because funds have not permitted me to drop several hundred dollars on a nice quality pistol or shotgun for the home. Along with this, I would be sure to obtain the proper firearms training to not only be comfortable using the firearm, but carrying it on my person on a daily basis.
The how:
I want to shop to find what weapon(s) I want to purchase by the end of January and budget the price into my savings – possibly setting up a separate account for this purpose along with the price of adequate ammunition and professional training.

4. I want to live more simply.
I have far too many clothes. I have far too many books. I have far too many shoes. I just have too much stuff. 
The how:
I want to come up with an amount of things I give away each month or just a limit on how much I’m able to possess. More updates and possibly a blog post on how I go about this will be to come.

5. I want to be a more prepared individual. 

Prepared with tools.

Once upon a time, I was a boy scout who could tie knots, climb cliffs, and knew which items you could eat if you got lost in the wilderness. Nowadays, I can tie my shoes, I’m out of shape, and I think I’d depend on how fat I am to give me some calorie storage. I live in the city, have no firearms, and if snow or storms were to knock out power and keep the grocery stores closed for a month, I’d probably last 2 weeks before I’d start going hungry. 
The how:
I’m not saying I feel the need to prepare for the end of the world yet, but possibly just storing enough food and water for my wife and I not to panic in the event of a natural disaster like we’ve seen with Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Katrina, or even the earthquakes we had been experiencing in Oklahoma along with the ability to protect it in the event that law enforcement is stretched thin or incapable of reaching us. My plan for this is to figure out a way to buy just a few extra nonperishable items to put in the closet every time we go to the grocery store, refill empty milk jugs with filtered water, and have first-aid kits as well as certain tools and items readily available in my home and car. In addition to this, I’d want a better knowledge of e
verything from knots to auto mechanics. This would be from doing research in my free time as well as testing out any skills I obtain. 

What is your New Years resolution plan? Feel free to post it in the comments box or on Facebook so you can discuss it with others.