New Year’s Resolutions vs. Goals

It is well known that people rarely keep their New Year’s resolutions. That is primarily due to the fact that the concept is generally ill conceived and poorly executed.

A “resolution” is something you “resolve” to do. Yet the motivating factor behind most New Year’s resolutions is simply the need to anchor some desire for change to a particular date. “I resolve to quit smoking” or “I resolve to stop hitting on my sister’s friends.” Regardless of the resolution, all it does is reveal a latent desire to do something (or stop doing something), but with no plan of action associated with it. As such, once you’re a few weeks into January, New Year’s day is but a fading memory and so too is the resolution.

You’ll do far better to think in terms of goals. Goals, if properly conceived and sincerely desired, come with an action plan. You don’t just decide to do something (or stop doing something), you plan how and when you will achieve the goal. You fix it in your mind that you will feel great when you achieve it or you will feel like a big stupid loser if you don’t. Now you have a goal, a plan, motivation, and a reward/punishment system.

I generally hit about 50% of my New Year’s goals but this year I’m aiming higher, as the goals I’ve defined are even less “resolution-like” than were those of previous years. I’m not going to list them all here, but they include things like taking care of some dental work that’s about 20 years overdue, fixing some other lingering health defects, and some goals for learning and getting my photos organized. The action plans for some are already drawn up, and I hope to draft the rest of them over the next few days.

There’s also one other thing I would like to fix, but I know I won’t, so I’m going to keep it in the category of (bound to fail) resolutions: I resolve to stop getting riled up over other people’s stupidity.

There. I said it. But I know it is in my nature to be that way, so I’m not going to set a goal to be different. I will, however, try to moderate my annoyances, and to perhaps achieve catharsis by continuing to blog about some of the stupidity I see. But I doubt I’ll be able to just plain stop getting worked up over it.

Oh, you want an example? OK, here you go; a few nights ago I was looking through Flickr and I found a photo of a prominent Montreal building that was incorrectly identified as a building in Longueuil. I had spotted this error a few months ago and had left a comment that correctly identified the building and it’s location, backed up with links to the building’s location on Google Maps and its Wikipedia entry. No problem; anyone can make a mistake like that, but I corrected the error and moved on. So that should be the end of it, right?

No. Someone else comes along and completely ignores my brief but accurate comment and follows it up with a comment that correctly identifies the building, but completely mislocates it when correcting the “Longueuil” error.

What? Hello! What part of my Wikipedia and Google Maps links do you not understand?

It would be somewhat forgivable if the photo had twenty or thirty comments to mow through, but mine (with the links) was the only comment before dumbass came in with her incorrect corrections! (The person who posted the image and made the original mistakes didn’t even bother to acknowledge my corrections, but that’s a whole other issue.)

OK, one thing; the original caption on the image was in French, as was the dumbass follow-up comments, while my comment was in English. But the English comment comprised two brief and uncomplicated sentences – including the correct location in French, plus the link went to the French version of Wikipedia and even the most unilingual Francophone on earth will understand a link that says “Google Map.”

I had the misfortune of seeing this just before going to bed, so I can honestly say I lost half an hour’s sleep over it. So yeah, I would like to resolve to stop being bothered by stupidity, but I know the resolution would fail, so why bother?

7 thoughts on “New Year’s Resolutions vs. Goals

  1. First on planning. I have a saying. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

    Now for the philistines. I share your pain. Sometimes I come to the realization I’m discussing with a complete and total idiot and there is nothing I can do about it. They are all the same. The outcome of a repeated action can and will change if I repeat often enough. That’s their logic.

    What pisses me off the most about cretins is that they are so certain about everything they say that they will make you out to be an idiot and re-write history, reality even, where what you know for a fact is nothing but imaginations and they will convinces others of this. And you are left standing there wondering “What bizzaro alternative universe did I wake up in this morning?”

    “Force plays a much larger part in the government of the world than it did before 1914, and what is especially alarming, force tends increasingly to fall into the hands of those who are enemies of civilisation. The danger is profound and terrible; it cannot be waved aside with easy optimism.The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt. Even those of the intelligent who believe that they have a nostrum are too individualistic to combine with other intelligent men from whom they differ on minor points”. – Bertrand Russel

  2. “The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”

    That Bert was one smart cookie. I wanna get that on a t-shirt but I don’t think it would fit.

  3. Have faith, my friend. You can stop getting riled up over stupers (short for remarkably stupid persons). I should know. I used to stew over stupidity, not just for minutes or hours, but days! Sometimes weeks. It took time, but now I just laugh about idiocy, and realize I am a product of my reactions. If I allow the inane to drive me insane, than their meager minds are more potent than my hopefully, more intelligent one.

  4. I love the Bertrand Russel quote. Read a fair bit of his work back in Cegep. I should revisit him this year.

    Human stupidity is far too delicious a treat to give up. And I think that truly harmful stupidity — such as the anti-vaccination people, or those who think that public buildings are the logical place to put monuments to their favorite gods — should be vigorously ridiculed.

    A few months back, my wife and I were accosted by an evangelical while walking down the street. He eagerly tried to push his Jesus-saves-you pamphlets on us. I was ready to ignore him, but my wife tossed over her shoulder: “I’m a Muslim, and he’s an atheist.”

    The man was taken aback for a split second, and then came back with: “Atheist? But there’s no such thing, of course.”

    Interestingly, it was my wife who nearly flipped out. I had to coax her out of haranguing the poor idiot.

    I save my ire for those idiots who aspire to power. There are people and groups in the USA who have enough momentum to effect real change, yet whose mental map of the world doesn’t correspond to reality in any meaningful way. I’m thinking of those groups who support Israel unconditionally in order to keep Jerusalem safe for Jesus’ return. Or the anti-vaccination people. Or the people who want to take evolution out of biology classes. And so on.

    We’ve been lucky enough that these kind of people aren’t numerous enough in this country to have an effect on our politics. A certain amount of enjoyment in the skewering of the publicly foolish I think goes a long way to keep a society healthy.

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