So you’ve made your New Year’s resolutions. You have probably made some every year. How many of them have you kept? What is your accounting system for them? If you do year-end job performance reviews for your employees or peers, do you do them for yourself? What is the Fitbit of your consciousness, of your resolve? How do you record and measure your own successes — and shortcomings?
If these questions are annoying, why do you make resolutions at all?
These “Top 10” commonly made resolutions are probably familiar to us all:
1. To be more fit.
2. To be more happy.
3. To be a better listener.
4. To eat healthier food.
5. To contribute more actively to our society.
6. To be a better friend.
7. To read more.
8. To create a better balance between work and play.
9. To be a better parent, spouse or child.
10. To be more loving.
How do we measure these efforts? Who judges us on these? Where else in life do we set such noble and ambitious goals and then fail to hold ourselves accountable?
Here is my suggestion: Measure your progress every day and write down a score or grade. Really. It can be from one to 10, from one star to five stars, from A to F. The recording of your performance — on whatever scale works for you — may be more effective than anyone else’s judgment. Ask Siri, Alexa, Cortana or your partner to remind you.
Doing this will have a direct, immediate benefit. At the end of each day, our commitment to self-improvement will be more than just a desire, but a set of actual accomplishments with a written tally of our progress.
Then, have the courage to share your score sheet. It doesn’t have to be public, just with someone you love or trust. It is easy to deceive yourself, but harder when the goals are shared. Create a reward system — if you like rewards — but skip the penalties. Resolutions are all about self-trust and self-improvement. Failure to achieve them is painful enough; especially with a witness.
I plan to practice what I preach. And so, for 2017, I’m sharing a half-dozen of mine. I resolve:
1. To laugh more.
2. To criticize less.
3. To be more fit.
4. To listen better.
5. To create and contribute more.
6. To reduce my stress level.
Judge me freely. I’ll be keeping score as well.
Dr. Kevin R. Stone is an orthopedic surgeon at The Stone Clinic and chairman of the Stone Research Foundation in San Francisco.