Kate Marolt Sunday, January 3, 2010

A couple of days ago, I saw this blog post on twitter: Living a Good Story, and Alternative to New Years Resolutions. I have always had a slight aversion to New Year's resolutions- if I want to change something I should just do it, instead of using the convenient excuse of a new year. However, when new things come around, like birthdays, new years, changing seasons, etc., inevitably it is a time of reflection and a time to hope for change in our lives. This post spoke to me because the basics of what it talks about are that setting goals isn't enough. We need to create a narrative around the goal so that we will commit to it and fulfill the climactic result of this narrative.

Now, I love goal setting, when it's done right. In my early teens I was taught to set goals with these steps:

* Positive outcome
* Present tense
* Date accomplished by

For example, instead of saying, "I will get straight A's this quarter", my goal would be "I have a 4.0 GPA on March 18th, 2010". Or, instead of "I'm going to lose x amount of weight", my goal would be "I am a healthy, active, fit, XXX pound woman by June 1, 2010".

Giving our brains a positive mental image and a deadline makes it much easier to stick to goals. But this post takes it several steps further, in a direction I really enjoy.

His steps are:
1. Want something
2. Envision a climactic scene
3. Create an inciting incident (find a way to hold yourself accountable)

For that first goal, I could go beyond that and picture myself on graduation day, graduation summa cum laude (with highest honors) and vividly imagine how good that will feel, and how proud of me my parents will be, etc. etc.  To ensure that this will happen, I have already told my parents that I will be graduating summa cum laude. No way I can go back on that now!

For the second, even though I am not concerned about weight I would like to get into ridiculously great shape this year. I am imagining myself beating my half marathon time twice (I think I'm going to run two this year) and scaling peaks around Colorado, where I am moving at the end of the summer, and knowing that I have to be in great shape to do both of those. As for the half marathon, I am running the first with somebody and plan on sharing my goals with several people so that they will help hold me accountable. As for the mountain climbing, I've talked to my friends out there and told them to be ready. Which subsequently means that I have to be ready.

I'm excited to sit down and write out in detail all of my stories for the coming year, and to figure out all of the things I'm going to have to do, all of the conflicts and struggles I will have to endure in order to make these stories happen. I like the idea that I am still pursuing my goals but that I am creating meaning beyond my mind and beyond myself for them. I also like that when all of this is accomplished I'll be able to look back on my year with satisfaction.

What does your 2010 story look like? What moments will make it great?