How To's and Why Not's, Life ~ Thoughts ~ Writings

Resolutions Are Like Graffiti

Resolutions are like Graffiti. They can be beautiful. They can also be destructive, distracting, messy, confusing and overwhelmingly disappointing. 

Stacy Ford

Hear me out before you think I’ve gone a little cray cray here. 

We don’t make resolutions. “Opting Out of Normal” ya know! Living a life of no goals? What? You must think we don’t have any dreams. And of course, we must have no ambition whatsoever. It sounds scary, right? Against everything you’re taught in school, and from your elders. Our society is very “goal orientated”. You see it all over! How could we live if we didn’t have goals? I remember school assignments forcing me to make goals of some sort. 

In the corporate world I worked in, everything was about goals. We had our reviews at the end of the year. Did we meet “our” goals that we didn’t necessarily even set for ourselves, but that the company set for us? That bled over into homeownership goals, personal goals, weight loss goals, eating goals, short term, and long term goals. There are also travel goals, lifetime goals, and money goals. You know – I’m going to save a penny today, 2 tomorrow, 3 the next, and so on. By February you were trying to re-count your pennies because you’re sure you forgot a few days and needed to at least put in a quarter or two by now. But wait. Wasn’t there a list you made to tell you how many pennies you should have today? 

We personally had so many goals, lists, and spreadsheets. And even a goal about making goals. I would regularly spend New Years Day making lists, and (say it with me now) “this year I’m really going to keep up on this list and accomplish these goals”. Ha! So I worked harder each year crossing off goals we’d accomplished, re-evaluating, and then … dropping the ball. Where is that list? I know I put it somewhere I’d remember this time. I was supposed to have a goal of remembering these things better. Wasn’t I going to get organized this year? I’m sure I bought a bin or folder to put all these things in. What did I do with it again? Another failure. Another frustration. Our perpetual and seemingly never-ending list of goals grew to more disappointments than accomplishments. 

So, why do we have goals? (Other than it’s instilled in you for your whole life that you must set goals.) My personal reason is I thought it would help me get things done. I’m a planner and a doer and a lover of lists. Putting it out there on paper would make me get it done! Right? I spent hours making lists, checking the lists periodically, and then — losing the lists in all the chaos of … You got it … painting the house. Because that was a goal this year ya know. So I’d make more lists. I thought completing goals was achieving happiness. If I completed a goal, I was allowed to be happy. Why can’t we just be happy now? It shouldn’t take a “goal” concocted on January 1st to put new flooring in your house by December 31st to make you happy. Just make a choice to do it when you’re choosing to do it. What happens on December 31st when you look at the list you might have actually been able to find, and nothing was done? Or maybe just a few things were half done? You feel disappointed in yourself. Oh but wait! Now you can just add it to the next year’s goals. Problem solved! Because (let’s hear it again now) “This year I’m really going to do it”. 

Choices vs. Goals

What if instead you just make “choices”? I’m not saying just change the word from goal to choices. It’s a thought change. 

We make choices. Not goals. Choices are more sporadic, more intentional, more deliberate, and more direct. Choices have nothing to do with the change of a year, December 31st vs. January 1st. I choose to be happy. I choose to be healthy. I choose to go to the gym, take on an extra job to make some money, or put new flooring in my house (instead of painting it, which might have been on a list of goals). I just choose! Choices. We all make them. You don’t have to start a new year out making goals that you can’t even remember by March what they were. If you want to lose weight. Choose to do it. Don’t put a time frame on it. Don’t say you’ll start in the new year. And eat an entire cake on New Year’s Eve. Start today. By not making goals, it doesn’t mean you’re lacking dreams or ambition. It just means you’re allowing yourself to make choices and not putting a time limit on those choices. And you’re allowing yourself to be happy today! Not next year when maybe you actually completed all those “goals”.  Try it. Don’t make goals this year. Just make deliberate choices in your life.

On a side note, in 1983 when my dad passed away, I opened up the newspaper to cut out his obituary (I was just 16 years old, and someone had delivered a stack of that day’s newspapers to our house. I’m assuming for that reason). I was thumbing through the paper and found an anonymous quote that had been published that day. In my own spiritualness, I felt this quote was something my dad wanted me to read that day, and carry with me in life. I don’t think he was done teaching me all those “dad-ism’s” when it was time for him to leave this Earth. That ripped out that newspaper clipping, yellowed and brittle, still hangs on my magnetic board today. I have carried it with me for 37-ish years. Maybe I even lost it at one point (maybe it was with my resolution list I found a few years later?) I want to share it with our followers today!

Happy New Year everyone! Live each day happy. Your own happiness! Not the expected happy, or societies happy. Not someone else’s happiness. Tomorrow is never promised. Don’t waste one day.

And screw those resolutions. 

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13 thoughts on “Resolutions Are Like Graffiti”

  1. Choices leads to decision that forms our goals. These goals push us by reforming us to be better and think of achieving greater goals. Even our purpose on earth here is based on goals.

  2. Hi. Just passed you on I10. What a great idea. We are retired and doing some bucket lists like revising AF bases my husband was stationed at in the 70s. Blessings

  3. I like your idea of thinking about choices instead of goals. I agree society encourages us to be “goal-oriented” to have direction . While I do believe this is a good thing, too many can become unrealistic.

  4. This is such an interesting concept. My husband has NEVER set goals and it drives me CRAAAAZZY b/c I have goals and subgoals for my goals and honestly can’t imagine going through life without them. However, he gets a ton done, has way less anxiety than I do and always feels like he is accomplishing a lot of good, worthwhile things in his life. There really must be something to it!

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