In fact, in Buddhism we have a fair few days that we use to make new resolutions – different commemorative dates. What, having to go through the process of seeing what resolutions I have failed to achieve (hint: all of them), more than once a year? No thank you! Well, in fact, having more than one day in the year to reflect can be far from demoralising actually. Sure, when it comes to May 3rd (another important day for us), I can look back over the past five months and see how much or how little I have achieved, which usually galvanises me into action for the next month or so. Then in a few months we have another significant date, or a campaign to work towards Nov 18th, and I push myself hard for another few weeks.
To tell you the truth, I love the heady excitement of making goals, and imagining them come true. When I read self-help books that tell you to make lists of goals, I immediately sit down on my laptop and start firing away. The problem however, is that I am great at making the goals, not so great at the follow-through. I often forget all about my goals within a few weeks, sometimes sooner, and in previous years when I made New Year’s Resolutions, I used to forget them by February end at the latest, until the last week of December, when I was making my new resolutions. And then I kicked myself for not making any headway in the past 12 months.
On the other hand, getting an opportunity 3 or 4 times a year to review my goals and assess my progress means that I am reminded of my goals and also my lack of progress. And since I usually manage to make at least a month of progress towards my goals, in this way, I spend about 4-5 months a year working on my resolutions instead of one. This way, in the past year, I have been able to complete a first draft on a book that I have been writing primarily in my head and on stray scraps of paper over the past 10 years. This has been huge for me.
Today too, I am renewing my determinations to complete previously incomplete goals, the first of which is to turn that first draft into a publishable book. I intend to work on it solidly for another month, by which time it would be time to make resolutions for 2014, and assess how much progress I made.
I urge you too, to try my approach of going back over your resolutions for 2013, and seeing if there are any that you can have a go at – after all, there are still 6 weeks left in this year. Maybe you wanted to go to the gym more often, or eat more healthy food. In 6 weeks you can go to the gym 12-15 times, which is a lot more than not going, and vowing to do so in January. You can learn some new salad recipes and try them out for your family, in preparation for the holiday season overindulgences. Whatever your goal is, there is surely some progress that can be made in 6 weeks.