New Year’s Resolutions Suck. They really do.
What could be better than starting 2017 with a clean slate, putting all of your and my failures and shortcomings in the past, with a clean, bright future in front of us? What better time to come up with a list of Resolutions to improve your life by becoming more successful, more productive and more loving this year. The kind of person that you and I know we could be, but have been held back from becoming.
Mostly held back by ourselves.
As I have shared in my last posts, I was one of those guys who spent a great deal of time contemplating my New Year’s Resolutions year after year, writing them down, and then feeling like a failure for not making significant headway on them and, ultimately, failing to accomplish them.
I started many a year, roughly from the early 90’s through about four or five years ago writing out my lists, taking a few steps towards accomplishing them, and then by the end of February, I would have all but given up.
I would always sprinkle a few things on the list like “Be a good husband” or “Go on a great family vacation” and other such things that I would either try to do with or without set Resolutions or, in some cases, I knew that we would go on a vacation and its greatness would be completely subjective.
Many times, I thought the Resolutions silly by March, but would carry them around with me on a post-it note in my wallet all year, anyway.
Things that have not helped me accomplish my Resolutions year after year, included, but were not limited to:
- Having too broad or general goals, like “Get in better shape,” “Be a better husband,” “Get more organized” and things of that nature. At the end of the year, I could have thought of myself as a better husband, but I never actually asked my wife her thoughts on the matter.
- Adding too many things to the list, like wanting a better job, a new car, a new house, losing twenty pounds, fixing my teeth, making more money, saving $7,000 per child for their education, and a host of things that an average Middle Class Guy, like me, could not realistically accomplish in the space of twelve months.
- Not writing out a plan for achieving them. Just writing out “get a better job” might be accomplished for you or me if we actually had a solid plan of how to achieve it. Many books and articles have been written on this topic, which takes an actual step-by-step plan including networking, improving your resume, keeping up-to-date in the field and much more than just hope.
- Not establishing a timeline. Of course, they are year-long Resolutions, but it would be helpful to have a timeline for some of them through the course of the year. I am thinking of (but have not yet resolved) resolving to make 100 posts on Middle Class Guy in 2017. Being off of work for a week has made it fairly easy to post the past few days in a row, about New Year’s Resolutions, our Middle Class Christmas, my 17th vacation day, my new accordion file, the Rich Dad and Napoleon Hill’s classic, Think and Grow Rich. But throw in some long work weeks with traveling or meetings a few evenings, driving our son to and from college, attending dance competitions and concerts, and all of a sudden the extra hours to write are not so easily found. If I want to do 100 posts per year, I should resolve to do no less than eight per month, which sounds easy now but is not.
- Stating the same goals year after year does not always work. Even though every year I resolved to remain gainfully employed, and have (so far), my annual Resolutions of losing weight, moving to a bigger house in a better neighborhood, getting a better job, and so forth felt empty the fourth or fifth time in a row that I wrote them. If you still do this, like I used to, but have not achieved them yet, it shows that it is time to tweak your approach to achieving those Resolutions.
Writing about what not to do can be helpful, but writing about and then actually doing things to help us, you the reader and me, Yours Truly Middle Class Guy, achieve our Resolutions is more helpful. Posts on that topic will dominate the Middle Class Guy blog in January.
I will be focusing on ten or so goals this year, none of them earth-shattering, but they are important. As much as I enjoy writing my own blog, it is more important for me to remain gainfully employed in my current or even a better position through 2017.
Our family’s budget these days includes anywhere from a low of about $7,000 in a month, to a high over twice that. We will be paying our son’s college tuition and room and board in five monthly installments per semester from now on, so we will be avoiding the one-time payment of around $13,000, like we did in August, so we should be able to avoid the $21,000 in spending month that looks whopping to me to even write it.
I am not yet ready to submit my complete list, but I do know of a few Resolutions for this Middle Class Guy already:
- Remain gainfully employed at my current position or a comparable or better position within a half-hour drive from home.
- Be a great father, husband, son, brother, uncle, nephew, co-worker and employee.
- Set a new personal record for vacation days. As much as I would like to resolve to take 20 or more vacation days, I would settle for taking 18, which I never have in 23+ years of full-time employment. I would like for these 18 days to include a week in Da U.P. and would like to take my wife and son to Disney World next December to see our daughter march down Main Street U.S.A. with her high school marching band.
- (Comfortably) wear my size 36 waist shorts purchased from Menard’s this past summer.
- Fix at least one major item on our house or make an improvement that would make my wife happy.
- Write a lot of blog posts, final number to be determined. Since I may commence work on two or even three very good book ideas that exist in my head and in my ideas notebook, I may scrap the blog altogether to begin working on those.
- Filter out at least fifty of the books piled up in our house. As you may have read in an earlier post, I am using the Middle Class Guy blog to write about books that I have read, so that I feel more comfortable donating them instead of holding on to them forever and ever.
- Make some dough besides my day job. I wrote a 600 or so page book that I posted on Amazon about six or seven years ago. It does not have a cover, it is not well edited, and I have not accessed that account for years despite their frequent emails to me to modify the format. Some day, I will post about the book, which I think is very good, but it does not look good enough on Amazon or Barnes & Noble’s website to attract more than one or two buyers per month, which nets me about $3 to $5 bucks per month. I have told my wife that I would like to break it up into two 300-page books or, better yet, three 200-pagers with separate covers and to format them correctly, maybe even get them professionally edited and invest a little to help make that project that I worked on for years sellable. I would also like to add Google AdSense or Yahoo! ads to this site, so I could make a few bucks showing ads for my many hours of writing, although I do enjoy doing this. I know that I am not the only solidly Middle Class Guy who could greatly benefit from making some extra money, but I am certainly solidly in that category.
- Resolve our car situation. We need a new family car with air conditioning and without constant problems, like our lemon of a Chrysler Town & Country minivan. I currently own and alternate driving two old cars, a trusty 1998 Subaru and a problematic 2001 Nissan. I know, these are not cars befitting someone with a professional job and high aspirations, but I choose to spend money on items besides cars, although I have sunk thousands into keeping these three cars on the road. My current plan is to donate the Nissan to a worthy cause next summer instead of sinking another $500 or more trying to get it to pass Illinois emissions. I may drive the Subaru as long as it will keep driving.
Come to think of it, that list of nine Resolutions sounds like a winner to me.
I suppose the next steps would be to do some of the things that I have written about, like making plans on how to accomplish them.
Keep checking on this blog to gauge my progress or lack thereof.