I call them the “New Year Resolutors”. Every September at the start of the new school year there is a sudden influx of new callers asking questions about the program, the book, the workshops, the conference calls - just any information that will assist them in their resolutions that this year will be different. This year they will be up on time to make the kids’ school buses with ease. This year dinner will be on the table in a timely manner and will likewise be cleared away before the baby is calling for his midnight feeding. And this year they won’t be inundated with laundry, nor backed up on their ironing. They won’t have closets splitting at its seams, nor embarrassed when unexpected guest come a calling. This year, they promise, somehow in some magical way they will turn into perfect homemakers.
The good news is that their resolutions are attainable. The better news is that they need not resort to magic to achieve them.
The usual reason for failure is too grand attempts. We want it all and we want it now. While that drive and determination are wonderful tools to employ in our effort to achieve our dreams, we do have to remember that our persistence will inevitably fade when the work involved is too difficult. The road to success is littered with broken down carriages that buckled under the weight of good intentions.
Obviously we need more than good intentions. We need to have a plan.
1. “Define your goal”
The first step necessary to successfully implementing any goal is to be clear on what it is that we want. You want to be that wonderfully relaxed wife and mother – while at the same time have your home and life be in perfect order? You want it Hakol Beseder? A lofty goal, to be sure – but a worthy one too. Being aware of what we’re striving for gives us a focal point and something to aspire towards. Let’s visualize a ladder with the ultimate version of ourselves at the very top. Certainly we can just jump ahead and try to be that wonderful being, but chances are that the strain will get to us shortly. The stress of trying to be someone entirely different than who we are, isn’t something we usually put up with for the long haul. We might pull it off for a few hours, a few days, or even a few weeks, but chances are slim that we will suddenly turn into the perfect person we envisioned.
We need to go ahead and do step two.
2. “Identify and itemize”
The second step to achieving any goal is to detail and define all the steps necessary for us to arrive at our destination.
Let’s look at that ladder again, and start enumerating what the steps may be.
Ø Getting the kids to bed on time,
Ø having a menu plan each morning,
Ø keeping laundry from piling up,
Ø preparing for the kids’ school day in advance,
Ø a timely bedtime for ourselves,
Ø starting out early dressed for the day…
Each rung on the ladder is a step up, a step in the right direction. Indeed it won’t get us to the top in one day, but each step is an individual achievement and one we can take pride in. Which brings us to our third step in achieving our goals:
3. “Practicing no more than one step at a time”
Even though each step is so important to the big picture, individually it requires a fraction of the work. Being that each part of the whole is so much more doable, we’re less likely to find ourselves overwhelmed and thus more likely to stick to the plan and reach for that goal.
A new mini-goal each month is the perfect spacing for the rungs on our Hakol Beseder ladder.
As each rung on the ladder becomes a more solid stepping stone, we are bound to take pride in our achievement and have the strength to move forward.
Being a great homemaker is the conclusion of many individual successes. If we keep that in mind we will notice that each rung on the ladder is an achievement in its own right. Even if there were to be no continued progress, there already is plenty to be proud of as things are. This allows you to pace yourself and feel comfortable without racing towards your final goal.
Think of the ‘micro-goals’ listed above. When we focus on each one individually, (instead of the big picture) it allows for familiarization and for constant repetition. That repeated practice will give us a wonderful gift called ‘healthy habits’. Habits will not only make our goals easy to execute – but they actually requires less effort to do than not to!
As the wonderful habits add up month after month, we’re bound to notice just how easy the individual achievements are, and thereby get the impetus we need to proceed. That far off goal that was previously just a dream - suddenly seems so very attainable.
And habits last. Long after the New Year resolutions were forgotten, habits are hard to kick. Amongst those that have B”H experienced this change in their lives, most gratifying to hear is when they tell of ‘not realizing’ that they were doing their recently learnt routines on autopilot.
I’ve heard it said that one should reach for the moon, because as the saying goes ‘even if we don’t reach it, at least we’re amongst stars’. This year can be different. This year can make the difference.
Atop that tall ladder sits your goal neatly encased in a great big treasure box with an even bigger lock. Healthy Habits is the key. Let’s take those steps together every month and unlock the fortune that is rightfully yours. And who knows? Next year you might have to be original and cook up some new New Year resolutions.