Everyone who has ever taken a long road trip knows that you do not simply and quickly arrive somewhere. A trip takes planning, it takes packing, it takes time, and it takes patience, but most of all it takes mapping. When going on a long road trip it is always important to think beforehand where you are going and how it is you will get there. Which streets will you take? Are there shortcuts that could cut the ride in half? Is the journey worth your time? Resolutions like the ones we talked about last week can be very much like road trips. Goals that we set for ourselves mean very little, if we do not know how we can realistically accomplish them.
If you’re like me you have an ever-growing list of things you would really love to accomplish, and these things can range from professional goals to silly ones like a monster list of books to read. Whatever your goal may be, it can sometimes seem daunting, and that is precisely why resolutions are hard to tackle. I should warn you now that this post is not a “how-to” on keeping resolutions. This week is more of a “I’m working on this” post, but hopefully it can be just as helpful.
In my mind there are two kinds of resolutions: those that are have a clear-cut path and those that are more abstract. For example, my resolution to read more books this summer is a clear-cut resolution. I have a list of books that I have been meaning to read, I will dedicate time everyday solely to reading, and with time I will cross many of the books off of my list. As long as I stick to my schedule, this resolution will be kept. It is quite simple, as you can see, to reach a goal like this one. In my opinion this type of resolution is easy to keep because it is trackable. Consider the other kind of resolution, the one that is more abstract. Take for example here my resolution to live a more globally conscious lifestyle. This can mean a million different things; it is extremely hard to track progress. It’s also very easy to put off because there is not definite way to measure it. Last summer items on my to-do list like this one were the ones I found hardest to tackle, and thus hardest to finish.
This summer I am taking a much different approach to this second class of resolutions. Instead of simply writing “Live a more globally conscious lifestyle” on my to-do list, I have created a tree diagram. In the middle I wrote my over all goal, but then branching out of this goal I listed five ways in which I am going to accomplish it, such as, “continue working with Echoing Green,” and, “be more eco-friendly.” Each of these branches branches out further, like for example under, “continue working with Echoing Green,” I have written, “Work five hours a week from home,” and “Keep up with news on Echoing Green Fellows from around the world.” In this way my goal of being more conscious of global events and social change becomes a very concrete one; it is easy to schedule and measure my progress.
Being able to take abstract resolutions and put them into tangible goals makes it easier to see where it is you are going and how far you will need to go still. This week do not only think about what you would like to accomplish this summer, but think about how you will get there through concrete actions. This seems to me to be the only way to ensure that you will reach your desired destination on schedule. Click here for your two minutes of procrastination.