Resolutions are a double-edged sword. On one hand, they give us hope and motivation to do something new. On the other hand, they can be difficult to achieve because they are typically big goals. It's hard to change oneself into a new mold without a driving motivation and stimuli. We're used to our day-to-day routines, and if we don't pay attention or are under stress, we'll default to them.
The problem is that we often make these big resolutions at the beginning of a big period, such as the new year. The gut feeling is that we achieve the goal if we survive for at least a year, and that's a lot of time. A year is just too long, and within a year, a lot of events happen in one's life, making it close to impossible to succeed.
These two problems can be tackled by changing the approach. One way is to shorten the period, and another is to broaden the scope. Instead of making a resolution for the entire year, try making a resolution for a shorter period, such as a quarter. Within each quarter, decide on an overarching theme that will drive your decisions for the next three months. Let's call it thematic quarters.
One of the great things about the approach of setting quarterly themes is that it provides a big boost of motivation and the feeling that you can really do something. Although this motivation may only last for a month or two, it's enough to establish mental routines and last until the end of the quarter with momentum. By that time, you're also looking forward to the new quarter and thinking about what else you can improve in your life. Since you know this motivation doesn't last for long, the goals are also quite smaller, which makes them achievable.
Setting a theme for a quarter doesn't mean we're limited to only its literal wording. Instead, it's about what it means to you at the moment. Quarters are intentionally short to reduce the chance that something has dramatically changed, but chances aren't zero. One's perspective on the world can change, or the reason behind the goal might not be relevant anymore. You're still able to do anything, but it's more about projecting the event into the right mind state. Thus, themes are more a mental shift rather than a prescribed firm command.
For example, my current theme is "Anything can be a lesson." This means I'm going to orient my quarter around learning new skills, approaches, and about others. I'll attend a few online courses on subjects that I've been interested in for a while. I'm shifting my approach to doing by thinking more about the conclusion from it. It means sometimes taking the longer path but learning something new while doing it. Specifically, when given a list of tasks to do at home, I'll prioritize those that I don't know yet how to do. This quarter is more about exploration as the previous two were on planning and exploitation.
If you think that's something of interest to you, feel free to let me know in the comments or reach out in other ways (see contact). I'm enjoying this approach and am organizing more and more around it. I'm considering whether it's worth creating an online service to manage themes. At the moment I'm building one just for myself but if there's an interest I'd be happy to share it.
Resolutions can be great motivators, but they can also be difficult to achieve. By changing the approach and shortening the period while broadening the scope, you can make your goals more achievable. Try making a resolution for a shorter period, such as a quarter, and decide on an overarching theme that will drive your decisions for the next three months. This approach will give you a big boost of motivation and make your goals more achievable.
If you're interested in this approach, please let me know in the comments or reach out to me through other means (see contact information). I'm really enjoying this approach and am organizing more and more around it. In fact, I'm even considering whether it's worth creating an online service to manage themes. At the moment, I'm building one just for myself, but if there's interest, I'd be happy to provide access to others. In addition to setting themes, discussions can be an excellent strategy for enhancing motivation and keeping themes alive for longer. Themes by themselves are great but they could be improved by accountability and sharing with others. So, help me help you, and you can help me too.