Happy New Year! Goals vs. Resolutions, and how I plan to utilize a social media reward system

New Year's Eve Central Park My new year’s resolutions are always the same. Write more. Draw more. Exercise more. I don’t usually focus on doing other things less, which I think is part of the problem. By not cutting down on the activities that take away from things like drawing or writing, I’m not actually giving myself the space to do “more.” Resolutions are also kind of wishy-washy, and easily dropped.

This year, I’m setting goals and intentions. Goals need to be written down, and we must frequently remind ourselves of them. (Mine are getting posted on the wall next to my bed, and another copy is going in my wallet.) In addition, an action plan is necessary to make any goal a reality. It’s all well and good to say “I want to learn to dance,” but if you don’t take the steps to make this happen, it’s just a dream. (For this goal, action steps would be deciding on the style of dance, researching classes, comparing locations and prices, and then actually signing up and showing up.)

For goal setting, I was taught to use the SMART model – goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based. Goals can also be changed, and action plans revised. In fact, I would recommend checking in and revising your action plan on a monthly basis, to stay on track. Resolutions feel like they’re set in stone, and if you don’t keep up then you might as well give up. Goals are flexible.

There are more than a few things I want to do more of this year. (Blogging is one of them.) I’ve evaluated my schedule, and the one thing I really need to do less of is playing around on the Internet. I have an iPhone, and I waste a lot of time checking e-mail, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Goodreads, blogs, and all of the interesting links that those sources lead to. As a result, my action plan is going to involve implementing a more structured schedule.

When I wake up, instead of immediately checking my phone and getting sucked into reviewing everything that happened while I was asleep, I’m going to stay unplugged and do my morning practice immediately. (I’m supposed to be doing that anyway, but I haven’t been.) My morning practice calls for a minimum of 10 minutes of reading (something toward my personal development, not a comic book), 10 minutes of journaling (or however long it takes to write 3 full pages), and 20 minutes of meditation (I just reintroduced this part today). I follow this up with at least 10 minutes of exercising, and then breakfast. Realistically, this entire process takes 1.5 hours. I shouldn’t check anything on the Internet until after I eat, but we all know I’m going to be on the computer while I eat, so I should just plan for that. It takes me at least half an hour to get ready to leave the apartment, so with this schedule I need to wake up a full two hours before I have to go anywhere. That means I need to get up earlier, which means I have to go to bed earlier. And do you know what that means?

Less time messing around on the Internet before bed.

So, if I want more time for things like writing, personal development, and art projects, I clearly need to spend less time on the Internet. I also need to restructure the way I use it. And so I will try the reward system.

  • Finish my complete morning practice? I can spend half an hour on Twitter.
  • Spend an hour working on my art portfolio? That gets me 30 minutes checking book blogs, Goodreads, and Amazon for giveaways, free kindle downloads, and new reviews.
  • Write 1k1hr on my novel? I can read a few articles on writing and publishing.
  • Put up a new blog post? Another half hour on Twitter, since I should post the link anyway.
  • Take Boyfriend out for the lunch special at the Japanese restaurant across the street? Now I can update my Facebook status and reply to a few people.
  • An hour of personal development work? I can update tumblr.

You might have noticed that this comes out to 9 hours. I do have to actually work and make money sometimes, so these are not daily tasks. I plan to do things like writing and art projects a minimum of five days a week, one hour a day. (That’s currently more time than I spend on either.) While I would like to update my blog more, I’m currently aiming for two blog posts a week. I have to exercise five times a week, for however long I feel like, with an absolute minimum of 50 crunches and 15 push-ups.

I’m still working on the schedule and final action plan for more concrete goals, but so far this feels doable – especially now that it’s written on more than a sketchbook page.

My other goals for 2012, in case you’re interested:

  • Paint the bathroom (the idea is to paint Batman on the door, but I’d settle for getting a good coat of white paint all over)
  • Read 52 books
  • Take a dance class (I have a Groupon for 5 belly-dance classes that expires soon!)
  • Finish the first draft of one of the many novels I’m working on
  • Get my art portfolio and resume up and out into the world
  • Complete a picture book (and start sending it around)
  • Keep up with monthly worksheets (this is the personal development area – the sheets are for monthly meetings, and a way of staying accountable and on task with action plans)

I’ve set a few intentions, but I’ll just share the most important one: Love myself.

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