The Gregory Jay Blog

Having Trouble Finding a New Year's Resolution

I can't be the only person having trouble coming up with a good New Year's resolution this year. I've been thinking about them since Christmas, but all of my goals, projects and tasks are already captured in my 'extended min' (GTD speak for Time management system.) Everything that I want to do or think might be cool, or even have thought about maybe doing one day is in there.
Then I realised. rather than setting a resolution based on what I want to accomplish, complete or do I could set a resolution on where to focus my attention this year.
Anyone familiar with GTD will know the horizens of focus, created with the aviation terminology but representing the immediacy or scope of the items within them.

Runway - Todo's/tasks
10,000 Feet - Projects
20,000 Feet - Areas of Focus
30,000 Feet - Short-term Goals
40,000 Feet - Long-term Objectives
50,000 Feet - Vision
60,000 Feet - Life Purpose

I handle the lower wrungs of the horizens pretty well. I get things done, I complete projects, even my areas of focus are fairly well maintained. I pay appropriate attention to my Health, Family, Finances, my hobbies etc. However I do neglect my short and long term goals in favour of doing something that produces results in the here and now. The best way to see this is by looking at my Goals list. Every new year I draw up a list of goals that I want to achieve or complete. I've been doing this since I was at university. Looking back through the lists I can see lots of things that I've completed: Pay off Student Loans
Finish Paying off the House
Hear my son speak
Go on our honeymoon (we didn't have the money for it when we first got married)
Build a Home Server
Climb/Trek to Everest Base Camp

But Every year I also end up copying a few of my goals from the previous year onto my new list. Goals that I want to achieve one day but never actually work on. On every one of my lists I have 'Perfect 5 ball pattern' This has been a goal of mine since I first started juggling as a child. By the time I was a teenager I had a huge number of 3 ball routines perfected and my 4 ball pattern was strong but I never got my 5 ball pattern to a level that I would be confident enough to say I can juggle 5 balls. The last time I seriously worked on this was the year my son was born and he's 8 now... So I have been moving this goal from list to list every year without ever doing anything about it.

There are other items on my goals list that I have ignored year after year and they all have somethings in common:

They are 'non essential'

I don't 'need' to learn to juggle 5 balls in the same way I need to pay my bills or finish projects for work.

They are slow to progress

These items are all things that I wouldn't see progress on on a month to month basis. One of my goals, Fluent Tibetan, is something that I do work on but is very difficult to see my progress with. Obviously my Tibetan is much better now than when I started but being able to have a conversation with someone puts me still very far from my goal of fluency which will need years of consistent practice to achieve.

They are 'one day' goals

The last thing these goals all have in common is they are 'one day' goals. I'ts easy to say one day I'd like to publish a book and feel like you will actually do it one day. But 'one day' never actually comes, the question David Allen poses in Making It All Work is "When are you planning on doing that?"
And so that is my resolution for the year - to work on my 5-10 year goals. You may notice me in the kitchen more often or working on my foreign languages (four of them,) getting fight ready, writing, juggling or working on my card routines.

Hopefully I won't be pasting them all onto my goals lists in the years to come!

Greg is a true Sinophile, fluent in Chinese and proficient in Tibetan he is a homeschooling Dad that also consults on the side. You'll often find him cigar in mouth, book in hand, waiting for someone to finish their work or for the coffee to brew.