On New Year’s Resolutions

“Happy New Year to you.  Please have a New Year’s Resolution.  And none of that B.S. about resolving to not have resolutions.  Resolutions are simply goals.  And if you don’t have goals, then what is the point of coasting through life?”

Goal setting is an important exercise, and should be taken seriously.  If, dear reader, you are in the habit of breaking your resolutions early, then you are a poor goal-setter, or you have no idea what motivates you.

Goals should be specific (measurable), attainable (appropriately challenging), relevant to you (something you care about), and time-bound (in this case, one year).

Your own goals of 2012 were not quite set on New Year’s Eve of 2011.  In fact, they were set in July of 2011.  It’s been a long year.

And what were your goals?

Spend a month in Seattle, catching up with family.  DONE.  Not a lot of effort involved here.

Move to San Francisco.  DONE.  With about 300 bucks of disposable income left in your pocket.

-Get a job.  DONE. You were  employed within two weeks of arriving in the city.  In fact, you managed to get three and a half jobs.

-Be a live-in personal trainer for discounted rent.  DONE.  This arrangement was made with astounding speed over Couch Surfing, and proved to be an extremely educational and beneficial experience, albeit frustrating at times.

-Save at least $5,000 for travel.  DONE.  After a couple financial set-backs including industry bills and a stolen road bike, you managed to reach your savings goal within four months of gaining employment.  In the end, you put away $17,000.

-Put aside 10% of all of your wages like a responsible person should.  DONE.  Easy.  You actually put aside more like 25%

-Get an additional training certification.  DONE.  You obtained not one, not two, but three new certs, plus an enviable esoteric skill set that made you overhaul your style of training.

-Find a travel partner (optional).  DONE.  The goal was to travel, and you were open to a travel partner, provided he or she was going to be a good one.  You ended up with the best possible travel arrangement you could have ever imagined.


It’s nice to look back and see that you accomplished all of your goals.  Then you think about what you managed in addition to all of this (in no particular order).

Said farewell to your father, R.I.P.

-Unofficially achieved the rank of Master of Sport in WKC.

In a few short months, taught yourself more than your classes in calculus, political science, micro-economics ever did.

Tried body building for 6 weeks.

Learned more about health and physiology and movement than in all your previous years of training combined.

Successfully donated your ova.

Took trips to Seattle, San Diego, Las Vegas, Yosemite Nat’l Park, and Harbin Hot Springs–as well as all around the Bay Area.

Went to the Opera for the first time ever.

Learned not-so-obvious lessons about asset management.

Made numerous new friends.

Expanded the spectrum of your client base.

Got a hands-on crash course in tax law.

Got a crash course in… San Francisco, and all that she brings.

Katie said to you, bobbing her head, that since going to college, every year has been better than the last.

You thought about that.  Has every year of your post-high school life been better than the last?

Certainly not!

2006-2008 was a hard time.  They chewed you up and spit you out, and before you knew it, you needed therapy.  While you packed a lot in, those years certainly were not better.

But since you began travelling in summer of 2008, you can say that yes, your life has improved year after year.

You, as an individual.  One might expect the curve of maturity and personal development to level off over time.  One might expect that adults don’t change much, year to year.  These same people probably don’t set goals for themselves.

You used to think a good year was defined by how much you accomplished.  Accomplishment was defined by someone else’s standard. Getting As in classes, to meet the standards of your teachers.  Chasing splits on the erg and winning races, to meet the standards of your coaches.  Posting good sales numbers at work, to meet the standards of your bosses.

You defined your accomplishments by others’ expectations.  That was your error.  Those two and a half years were probably the worst of your life, even though you packed a lot of new stuff in.

It wasn’t until you started defining your own standards that your years turned around.

“I’m going to quit my job, donate half my shit to Goodwill, give up my phone, my laptop, my ipod and everything else, and go to Europe by myself with no fucking clue what might happen, hitch hike, camp in places I’m not supposed to, and see what happens.”

DONE.  In excess.  In the face of caution.

And when you returned for your second round in Europe, you raised the bar.  Challenged yourself to grow the fuck up and love your own company.

DONE.  (Though the company of others is certainly preferred).

And this time..

Your goals for the year are less objective, but you will not be wishy-washy about accomplishing them:

-Increase your stamina–return it to the level it was when you’d shrug at a 10 mile walk under a backpack if it meant saving a couple Euro.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t change–that is, stop devoting energy to these things.  It drains you.

Stop whining.  Take conditions for what they are.  Confront.

Walk El Camino de Santiago.

Increase your spiritual awareness, and live more in the moment.

Spend ample time in parts of Europe you’ve never been.

Sometimes you miss having a coach, or a teacher, or a mentor.  You miss having someone to set the standards–and then crush them.  But if you can’t acknowledge the power of yourself as a coach, as a challenger, as the darer, as the motivator and the instigator, then you lack trust in your own power and self-efficacy.

Don’t you dare!

Demand more from yourself than any other individual would dare ask of you.  Because if you have only yourself to answer to, and you set the highest standards of all, then you can confront anything.


Categories: Planning, Self-Improvement | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “On New Year’s Resolutions

  1. Buffy

    I really like this one Maria. I’m going to work on some goals for the new year and be consistent about meeting them. Thanks for the push!

  2. Buffy

    Thought I would post the list I worked on today since you shared yours. Happy New Year!

    -Pay off student loan debt by June
    -Have 20K in savings by the end of the year
    -Run 2 half marathons
    -Finish 2 sewing projects with my Mom
    -Stay within budget for groceries every month (Envelope system)
    -Meditate/practice relaxation once daily
    -Read to Liv everyday
    -Work on my marriage
    -Take Romey for a walk twice a week
    -Update the blog once a week
    -Memorize the glass pours at work
    -Be as frugal as possible. Buy as many things used or second hand.

    • demogirl06

      I like your list. It’s very specific. Watch out for the “daily” goals, because it only takes one day to mess up. I prefer “at least five days per week” for wiggle room.

  3. Pingback: Getting Work Experience Through Work Exchanges: The Good, The Bad, & The Odd | Life Of Travel - A Memoir

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