I am not typically a person who celebrates holidays. While I do get together with my family on Christmas and usually dine with my friends on Thanksgiving, I have never been very excited about celebrating religious dates or historical occasions. However, there is one particular day of the year and one event that really excites me and that is December 31st and the New Year celebration. It might sound very cliché, but it’s a date that I have grown very fond of because it represents an opportunity to do several things I wish we did more often: look back at what we’ve accomplished in the year, reflect upon on our mistakes and learnings and set systems in place in order to achieve long term goals and resolutions for the year ahead. It’s the end of a chapter and, with it, an opportunity to write a brand new one on a blank sheet of paper! An opportunity to “start your own chapter”!
I have a personal tradition that my friend Iñigo Castillo taught me 10 years ago and I have been practicing it ever year-end since: whomever I have dinner with on the 31st, I ask them to tell me their objectives and resolutions for the upcoming year, I write it down and keep the note in my power until December 31st of the next year. On that date, I send those people personal emails with the goals and resolutions they set for themselves 365 days ago, hoping they accomplished their objectives and dreams and wishing them the best for the next year in their lives.
I personally do this as well and I say my goals out loud so as to have more accountability. But, the goals I set and the way I track my resolutions are a bit more profound and I would like to share them with you, because they have helped me personally and professionally. First off, I set my objectives with my coach and I speak to my wife about them, in order to set realistic but challenging goals and to make sure my family is OK with my plans. Second, I set very ambitious systems I want to build for the long term (many of which take much more than a year) but they are ones that I split into smaller objectives which I can track on a more regular basis (weekly or monthly, for example). My long term objectives are very ambitious, they sometimes seem unattainable, but I try to shoot for the moon and be bold. Third, I try to be very clear about the short term objectives, the best ones are usually binary; either you achieved them or you didn’t. While the actual goal is not as important as the road that takes you there, the systems you are trying to set in place and everything you learned in the meantime, it is important that the actual finish line is very clear and that the long term and overarching system you want to put in place is present.
While I truly believe happiness and success aren’t about achieving goals, but about forming systems, which is why it’s important to see the bigger picture and focus on the final long term objective, setting short term goals, that are measurable, is a great way to pave your road toward those systems. The small goals (whether failures or successes) will build up for the long term, so don’t be put down if you don’t achieve the short term goals: keep your eye on the long term resolution you are trying to accomplish. It’s important to note that many long term objectives take more than a year to accomplish.
I have two final suggestions. First, my recommendation is that you don’t have too many resolutions. I usually have 3: one that keeps me fit, one that is focused on DILA and one that makes me happy. Second, is that you share your resolutions with someone so that you have some sort of public acknowledgement of your goals and some type of accountability. If you don’t know who to share your resolutions with or don’t feel comfortable doing so, share them with me! Send me your goals to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be sure to send them back in 365 days hoping you achieved them and wishing you the best for year to come.