Many people use the new year to make resolutions about what they will and wonít do in the coming dozen months.
I long ago realized that any resolutions I might make in January were usually tossed aside before Februaryís first days dawned. For years, I did not even attempt to come up with New Yearís resolutions. I still donít. What was the point if I knew from the beginning that the resolutions would fall?
But a friend told me how he takes care of what can be a dilemma Ė wanting to change habits or begin new ones, while at the same time not imposing the win-or-lose pressure that a resolution requires. He sets goals.
Goal setting is different from making a list of resolutions. If I resolve to do something and do not accomplish it, failure is the result. If I set a goal and work toward it, anything I achieve is a success. A goal to lose 10 pounds may not be attained, but if I lose five pounds, there is a victory in that.
Perhaps it is just a psychological thing with me, but I do see a difference between goal setting and resolution making. So once again this year, I am not making resolutions, but I am setting goals.
Goal No. 1: The weight. OK, Iíll go ahead with the weight thing. I donít want to lose 10 pounds, but I could take off five from where I ended 2012. Thanksgiving and Christmas are really hard on the belt line.
Goal No. 2: Read more books. One of my daughters gave me four books for my birthday a few months ago. I have now finished all four and have begun the books I got for Christmas. The trouble with reading, however, is that if one gets involved in a book he just might stay up half the night trying to finish it. Already this year I have completed the Stephen King novel, ď11/22/63Ē which is a fascinating study in time travel and unforeseen consequences. If you like such topics, this is a good one.
Goal No. 3: Exercise my mind. To this end I had already begun working crossword puzzles in this newspaper. At first it was more than a challenge. It was almost impossible for me to come up with the words to fill in the spaces with the strange clues provided. A few months later, and I am able on most days to do the puzzle, and I am learning some of the key words and phrases as well as the answers they are trying to elicit. Next on my list of mind exercises is Sudoku. That is the number puzzle in which we try to fill out the boxes with numbers 1 through 9 so that each box of nine, row of nine and column of nine has each of those numerals without any repetition.
I got some coaching from a daughter over the holidays, and for the first time I was able to complete a Sudoku puzzle this week. As of this writing, I am stuck in the middle of the Thursday puzzle which is rated a three in the one-to-four scale of difficulty (four being the hardest). Even if I donít get todayís puzzle, at least I am aware of some strategies to get started, and I can fill in a few numbers.
Goal 4: Learn to play the guitar. I used to joke that I knew how to play two instruments Ė (pause and drum roll) the radio and the stereo. I never took band in school, never had an instrument to play and never tried picking up something and learning on my own. But this Christmas I was given a guitar, and I am now in the beginning stages of learning the instrument.
The last music class I took in which the staff and the notes were taught happened to be when I was at Kennedy Junior High. That was quite a few years ago. Trying to bring back that information from Mrs. Jonesí class and have it make sense with fingers working on strings and frets is no easy task for me. But it is a goal that I am setting. Whatever I learn is far beyond what I knew when I first picked up the instrument.
Goal 5: Limit goals. Donít try to have more than four goals. So far so good.
Jeff Wallace is the retired editor of the Aiken Standard.
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