COMMENTARY: Ditching New Year’s Resolution for Goal Setting

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 01 January) — Checking on my messenger the moment I woke up today, I was asked by a friend, “How was your New Year?” I answered, “It is just starting,” adding that I have not made a single mistake yet for the year.

It dawned on me that there are two fresh ideas to my answer to that simple question. First, we have to quickly get past the revelry of the New Year’s Eve and set our eyes on the year ahead. By that it means, like an Olympian sprinter on the starting line, we prepare ourselves for the race that is just to begin. Second, we should look at our actions as having a butterfly effect on what the new year will be.

Our first moves determines our course. It is not necessarily about whether our first acts for the year are right or wrong, but that these acts set in motion the direction that our year will take.

At breakfast, i skirted asking what the New Year’s resolution of my sons were. Instead, I asked what their goals for the year are. This idea, too, is something new for me, discarding the traditional New Year’s resolve and directing the psyche instead to new things that I want to accomplish within the one-year time frame.

Lenin, my third son, quickly answered that his goal is to have passing grades. This was not really his goal but he was actually testing his father’s reaction. But he knew what my reaction would be, so he quickly upgraded his “goal” to having excellent grades. Still, I will ask here, “Lenin, what is your goal for 2021?”

It is important that the goal is something you really want to achieve because it is somewhere that you want your life to be heading towards.

My youngest brother butted in and said his goal is to go to the US. American dream borne out of his frustration over the economic status of teachers in the country. Besides, he said, “Cooler environment will slow down the ageing process.” He intended to go the usual route of becoming a nursing aide as his ticket.

Now that is the second lesson about setting goals. Once you have set your goal, you define your strategy to reach it. The strategy should take off from your strength and from your passion. My brother’s strength is that he is a master teacher in chemistry and his passion is teaching. So, I said you can always go to America, or elsewhere, as a teacher. You do not have to line up on the usual route.

And since this is about taking the first step towards your goal at the start of the new year, I immediately googled for teaching jobs in the US. Google gave many possibilities, including working with international NGOs. I showed it to my brother. I was illustrating to him other strategic options towards his goal. Now all he has to do is to take that first step himself. The first step will determine his ability to achieve his goal the soonest possible time and in the most cost-efficient and self-fulfilling manner.

Before I end this, let me just say that making mistake in your first step may set off a tidal effect bringing you farther away from your goal, but you can always counter the tide.

So my friends, how is your New Year?

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Jules L. Benitez manages a peacebuilding project and contributes to MindaNews.)