New Year Adjacent Resolution

I’m not usually one for New Year’s resolutions.

Don’t get me wrong. I am all for setting goals and building habits. I am all about self-improvement. I just don’t usually tie it to the turn of the calendar year.

I am a proponent of constant self-improvement, which includes setting goals and building new habits at multiple points during a given year. Basically, whenever you discover that there is something that you could do to improve yourself, you sit down and make a plan to start working on it as soon as possible.

That said, I suppose the beginning of the calendar year is as good a time as any to induce some self-assessment.

Plus, this year I have an area of improvement that I want to work on for which the timing coincides roughly with the new year.

Prioritizing Goals

I’m pretty good at time management, but I want to be better.

I’ve completed the entry level time management tips. I have drastically cut back on my television time. I have drastically cut back on the time I spend using social media.

Between these two things alone I have probably freed up 15-20 hours per week.

My biggest problem is that I have too many things that I want to do and I do not properly prioritize them.

When I started this blog, I made a commitment to myself that I would post every Tuesday and Thursday for a year. I knew that I would be tempted to quit and move on to some other project and I wanted to make sure that I gave this project the time needed to develop a bit.

I’ve missed three posts. One in November and two in December.

All are understandable. The first I was debilitatingly ill and could not get out of bed, never mind stare at a computer screen and think critically enough to write a worthwhile article. The second and third were an absurdly busy period of time at work and I just could not get to it.

But I should have been prepared for those things.

When dealing with money, we know that we need to build an emergency fund when things are going well. Emergencies happen. We cannot predict when they will occur, but we know that they will hit at some point and we need to be prepared.

Time should be the same way. I should have banked extra articles when I had plenty of time and things were going well. Instead, I finished my articles for the week and then moved on to the next priority. I knew that time emergencies would happen. I even had a plan to get and stay a month ahead of schedule with my articles. But I didn’t. I got the minimal necessary work done on one priority and then moved on to the next.

What I need to do going forward – what I resolve to do – is to make better use of the good times. To bank progress on the top priorities before moving on to lower priorities.

Balancing Goals

I also want to better balance my goals. I overachieved in some areas and underachieved in others. I wanted to read a significant amount this year. I set a goal on goodreads of reading 70 books. I actually read just under 100.

At the same time, I haven’t spent as much time on this blog as I wanted. I’ve done no SEO work. I am terrible at incorporating pictures into my posts. I don’t have the slightest clue how to use pinterest to promote my posts. (I don’t actually really do anything to promote my posts). I also want to spend more time on more in-depth articles.

I haven’t spent enough time exercising. I was significantly better in 2016 than in 2015, but I still should be spending more time there.

In short, I have gotten better at not wasting time. I am using my time towards productive goals. But I am not balancing my use of time to hit all of my goals.

This is my number one area of improvement to target in the beginning of the new year.

Moving Forward

To this end, I will work on being more cognizant of how I am using my time during the good times. I will create specific blocks of time in my calendar to use towards specific goals, and I will not use those blocks for anything else. I plan to audit my time for a week in January as suggested by Laura Vanderkam and will do a follow-up audit in the spring.

I hesitate to call it a New Year’s resolution, but this is my resolution for the beginning of the new year.

What are your thoughts on New Year’s Resolutions? Do you have a goal that you intend to work on in the new year? Do you face time management issues like mine? Any tips for how to get better?

24 thoughts on “New Year Adjacent Resolution”

  1. Is it weird that my goal is to have attainable goals? I think the big issue for me with New Year Resolutions is that I make them ridiculously unattainable to the point where I give up before I get started.

    I’d love for you to go into how we can give ourselves better, more realistic goals.

  2. Funny…. I actually have a draft post started about resolving not to make new year’s resolutions. 🙂

    The key is, like you said, self improvement should come within ourselves… a driving force, not a day on the calendar. If we want to change, we shouldn’t wait until “Monday” or “New Year’s”…. or even “tomorrow”. Calendars are contrived. If we truly want to change, we will start now. There is a reason why only 8% of people actually achieve their New Year’s Resolutions.
    Primal Prosperity recently posted…The Price of Everything and The Value of NothingMy Profile

    1. Great minds…

      I’ve always found it pretty arbitrary. I am less anti-New Year’s Resolution than I used to be, if only because it does cause some level of introspection in people that otherwise may have continued coasting. I do think that it should be used as a gateway into more consistent self-improvement, though, and not an end in itself.

      Thanks for the comment!
      Matt recently posted…New Year Adjacent ResolutionMy Profile

  3. Oh man. I can so relate to your struggle with time management. I had the “plan” to have blog posts scheduled ahead of time… And, while I do agree that making new year’s resolutions is a little silly, I like the idea of a clean slate to start fresh and forget the past failures, so I like making goals that start at the beginning of a year, or a month, or a week. I am curious to try out an audit of my own time… This might be something I will attempt as well!
    Jena recently posted…Home Renovations – The Plan…My Profile

    1. I actually found that the audit felt a lot like a clean slate. You start Monday morning with an empty spreadsheet and have the ability to design your week however you would like. For some reason it feels full of possibility even though it is just the start of a normal week.

      Thanks for the comment, Jena!
      Matt recently posted…New Year Adjacent ResolutionMy Profile

  4. I’m actually more in favor of New Years resolutions. Everyone should take time to step back and see the forest for the trees. At work they tend to describe it as the manager taking a balcony moment to change the strategic course. It’s important to do so to avoid just being stuck in the every day action and reaction. You really should do this year round, but I view New Years as a kick in the pants reminder.
    Full Time Finance recently posted…What to do with a Surprise Windfall?My Profile

    1. That makes sense. I think my problem with resolutions was the idea that people are only taking a step back at the turn of the new year. I suppose that sets up a false choice, though. Taking that balcony view multiple times per year is better than once per year, but taking it once a year is better than never.

      Thanks for the comment!
      Matt recently posted…New Year Adjacent ResolutionMy Profile

  5. I don’t think I’m going to make New Year’s Resolutions this year. I just haven’t found them that useful, probably because I haven’t found a good way of introducing progress evaluation and accountability to the process.

    So this year I’m going to start with monthly goals, or even weekly ones, to see if I don’t make more progress that way.
    Emily @ JohnJaneDoe recently posted…Nine Tips to Make Brown Bagging Your Lunch Easy and ConvenientMy Profile

    1. Whatever works best for you. Some people do better with less frequent check-ins and some do better with more frequent check-ins. I fully support trying a different strategy if what you’ve been doing hasn’t worked very well. And if you’re looking for tips on goal setting, be sure to stop by again tomorrow. 🙂

      Thanks for the comment, Emily!
      Matt recently posted…New Year Adjacent ResolutionMy Profile

  6. I always set goals each year, often I carry them over from year to year. The key for me is to have check ins with the goals to see how I’m progressing, and not be afraid to change course during the year if something changes or something is not working. I still struggle getting ahead on post too after three years of blogging.
    Brian @ Debt Discipline recently posted…What Did You Get?My Profile

    1. That’s a good point. It’s always important to stay aware of your progress and to stay flexible if you need to change course. Life changes and we shouldn’t feel obligated to stick to goals that no longer make sense. And glad to see that I’m not alone. The blogging struggle is real.

      Thanks for stopping by, Brian!
      Matt recently posted…New Year Adjacent ResolutionMy Profile

  7. I have to admit that I really need to write down my 2017 goals as I know being held accountable will definitely help me reach them.

    On another note 100 books in a year. That is amazing!!! When I’m on vacation I try to read as much as possible and can still only finish maybe 2 in a week. So working full time, writing a popular blog and reading a 100 books is quite the feat. Congrats!!!
    Mustard Seed Money recently posted…How A Vacation Can Earn You A RaiseMy Profile

    1. I used to be awful at writing down goals. I would think about the things I wanted to do and then would forget about them within a week. I can’t remember anything in the short term that isn’t written down.

      Thanks! Reading just sort of became my go to activity when I had some free time that I wasn’t sure how to fill. I kept at least one book downloaded from the library on my iPad at any given time so that I could read wherever I was. I also take the Metro to work, so I can read on the way in and out of the office, which helps.

      Thanks for the comment!
      Matt recently posted…How Not to Fail at Your New Year’s ResolutionMy Profile

  8. Really love your honest post. It is a struggle sometimes with time – especially if we try to do too many things. We need to prioritize and sometimes walk away from some projects if we don’t have the time for it – I struggle with it.

    Every year, I write down my goals – one goal for each of these areas – spiritual, family, health, career, personal development, friendships, and finance. Some of these I overachieve, and some I hardly make a dent.

    However, I try to do better the following year. I am working on the goals for 2017 now.

    1. Thanks! I’ve gotten better at walking away from some projects, but I still struggle with properly prioritizing those that are left. Maybe that just means I need to cut more.

      Sounds like you have a good system worked out. I like the idea of picking goals in different areas of life so that you make sure you are pushing forward on all fronts and not leaving some behind.

      Thanks for the comment, Michael!
      Matt recently posted…How Not to Fail at Your New Year’s ResolutionMy Profile

  9. Hi Matt,

    Thank you for sharing your opinion with us. My new year resolution is more straightforward, and I’m planning to save more money this year and avoid over spending it. I have also made this decision that I will try to open new sources to make some money apart from my job. My resolutions are not unrealistic, and I think I will achieve them by next year same date, wish me luck guys.
    Rajkumar recently posted…How Taxation Helps in the Growth of a Country ( like India )My Profile

  10. First of all, wish you a very happy new year, hope you will achieve your life goals and progress well in your life. I have taken some resolutions which I want to follow in 2017 but I’m very much scared because I don’t know at what point or time I may stop. Every year I create some goals/aims but most probably I release that I failed to achieve those goals at the end of the year. It would be great if you could offer me some tips.

    1. Happy New Year, Raj!

      I posted some tips in the article that immediately followed this one. Those can be found here: http://www.optimizeyourlife.co/not-fail-new-years-resolution/

      I also wrote some tips specifically on achieving time management goals here: http://www.optimizeyourlife.co/five-tips-better-time-management-2017/

      If there’s anything more specific that you are looking for let me know and I will do some research.

      Thanks for stopping by!
      Matt recently posted…Five Tips for Better Time Management in 2017My Profile

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