Sneak Attack--Monthly Goals

Photo: byron chin

So, we're a month away from that most amusing time of year, New Years Resolution Season!

Hope springs eternal, eh?

I know not everyone is a fan of the annual Resolution Ritual.  Each year, millions of earnest folks set lofty goals and then, for the most part, totally blow 'em off a few weeks or days or even hours later.

Getting healthier and/or more productive generally involves willpower, self-discipline, and deprivation--and dressing it up in a party hat, alas, doesn't make it suck any less.

Portion control? Nooooooo!!!
photo: tambako

But, if you, like me, can't help but join in the annual Failure Festivities... what if we give ourselves a fighting chance this year?

Here's my sneaky plan, if anyone else wants to play along.

It's only early December, and if we're thinking of Resolving anything come January 1, we've got a month before we actually have to do anything specific or be accountable for any pledges we might want to make, right?

In fact, December is perfect for not demanding much of ourselves--what with shopping and decorating and cooking and dealing with parties and dinners and seasonal holiday concoctions, whether they tempting and evil or repugnant but foisted mercilessly upon you until you are forced to partake.

Hello, Jello!

So for many people, December is not a great month to try to start a diet, an exercise plan, a new creative project or anything other than perhaps a large bottle of scotch or a refillable xanax prescription.

On the other hand...

What if we don't actually try to do anything virtuous, but instead use the ten minutes a day trick to prepare to do something awesome, further on down the road?

Some Ideas for Relatively Painless Stealth Self-Improvement:

1.  Buy stuff and/or request holiday gifts that will make new habits more fun.

Here's All That Stupid Exercise Crap You Wanted Aunt Crabby!
photo: plan59

From simple pedometers and cooking magazine subscriptions to Big Ass Home Gym Equipment, change is always more fun when it comes with Toys.

2.  Experiment with accountability and productivity tools.

cartoon by Joy of Tech

These could be old-school calendars with gold stars, cheap apps, fancy software or whatever. You can use future email to give yourself a kick in your future ass, or sign up for supportive fitness communities like SparkPeople or whatever makes tracking and encouraging progress sound more fun and less excruciating.

Getting started with new tools before you actually need them, figuring out the login and registration details, and finding out which ones are actually useful and which ones have interfaces designed by imbeciles with brightly colored gumballs for brains, can smooth the way for recording or rewarding actual good behavior when the time comes.

3.  Daydream, Visualize, Fantasize, or even Brainwash yourself.

Cheesy self-hypnosis tapes, vision boards, gorging on Pinterest inspirational photos, reading self-help books, taking a quill pen to a lovely crisp empty notebook with a classy cover... or even just closing your eyes for a few moments and turning towards your imagination rather than your Facebook feed... there are lots of ways to steal a few minutes to prime your brain for future success.

Would that my fairest angel might someday "friend" me!

4.  Clear the decks.

This is the most painful of the "relatively painless" ideas, but it can reap large rewards.

You may have a nagging chore or project, perhaps involving decluttering, reorganizing, applying for something that involves paperwork, etc.  You spend mental energy every day battling guilt, coming up with excuses, working around it, or feeling like crap that it's still not taken care of.

This would be a great time to just suck it up and tackle some of it, right, so it's not getting in the way of more worthy New Years Resolutions?

Here's a wild-ass festive holiday idea:

What if you invite a well-chosen friend or two invite them to bring any portable dreaded chores, and host a chore-party? Is there such thing as a charty?

Supply snacks, and heck, if you occasionally and responsibly imbibe in alcohol, caffeine, herbal recreational substances, sugary desserts or other artificial mood enhancers, mightn't that make your chore feel a bit less chorey?

Yay, the gang's all here!
Ready to tackle those amended tax returns from 2010?

Or, um, on second thought perhaps we might rethink that last tip.

5. Remind yourself of any successes you had over the last year.

Reflect back and think about how you could replicate or build on them. And don't forget to pat yourself on the back for your victories!

(trophy generator Redkid)

And now we come to my favorite part of the month--where readers check in with what they're up to and what they might be scheming to accomplish in the future. It's also the post where commenters offer support or suggestions to other Cranketeers by replying to comments.

I'm not sure yet whether the monthly goal support posts should continue into 2014, or morph into something different, what do you guys think?

In the meantime: what have you guys been up to lately, and what's on tap for December?  

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