Friday, January 1, 2016


Happy New Year!

Like many people, you've probably heard people mention New Year's resolutions and groaned a bit to yourself recently. The 80s and 90s were quite a heyday for goal-setting, and the failure by pretty much everyone to meet all those goals brings feelings of failure and maybe guilt. Well, bah, humbug to that!

Set little goals! Baby steps to the changes you want to make. Here's what I mean:

No: Lose 20 pounds this year. Yes: Stop eating two desserts in a day.
No: Get a better job. Yes: Take concrete steps to increase my employability, starting with my performance at my present job.
No: Master the guitar. Yes: Practice the guitar five minutes every day and leave it in a place that makes that goal easy to accomplish.
No: Get 8 hours of sleep every night. Yes: Set the house wireless to turn off five minutes before your target bedtime.
No: Get a 4.0 GPA. Yes: Read my syllabus carefully at the beginning of the term and plan ahead to get important projects done with time to spare.
No: Run a marathon. Yes: Find an exercise that you enjoy and do it 2-3 times a week in a way that won't cause you to injure yourself (OK, for some people that might be jogging...I'm talking to everyone else).
No: Never have an impure thought again. Yes: Drop your Netflix subscription. (You'll save money and have time to read again, too.)
No: Have a wonderful relationship with that estranged family member. Yes: Don't say a single negative thing to anyone about that person this year.
No: Find a romantic partner worth staying with. Yes: Go do things that are worth doing and pay attention to who you meet while doing those things.
No: Keep my house in perfect order. Yes: Set up a cleaning system for yourself that maintains hygiene and allows you to go to bed each night with a feeling of having accomplished something on the cleanliness front. (Yes, it feels like trench warfare with little children in the home.)

As we learn from calculus, infinitely small increments still add up to a completed function. Even if it does sometimes feel like it takes infinity to do so....

Never give up on making an important change. Big goals aren't better than little goals if the big goals are unrealistic ones that we know we won't do.

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