“I made no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me. ”
― Anaïs Nin
“Good resolutions are like babies crying in church. They should be carried out immediately.”
― Charles M. Sheldon
Every year between 41 and 63% of us, depending on the country you are from, make resolutions, set goals and have shiny new aspirations for the year ahead. January is usually a month of promise. All our plans are firmly in our heart and mind, they are enacted with zeal. February sees us still buoyed by our visions, by March we are slipping away slightly from the goal. In April, May, June that little voice in our head tells us we really should get back on track and do that stuff we’d planned. Sadly, as the months roll on the resolution is a dim memory, discarded detritus. Most resolutions don’t see the year out. 80% are forgotten, sidestepped or bypassed in 3 months. Does that mean it’s futile to set resolutions? I don’t think so, though I think there are better ways to improve life.
I gave up on the resolution idea a long time ago. It didn’t work for me, I sucked at it and it added more pressure than was necessary to a life already complicated in other ways. I opted instead for making a bucket list to support a well lived life. It was a long list of joyful activities, challenges and pursuits to colour and flavour the year ahead. No pressure, no strict deadlines, no do or die expectations. Some years later I started creating a photographic montage, a treasure map of sorts, a nice visual reminder of those bucket list items which I started to call my love list (giving it a more positive spin). The visual cue was successful. I achieved way more on my love list than ever before. It was appealing, motivating and in view each day. Some time in between I used post it notes and a big wall chart to plot my goals and progress. The visual was good. Adding, updating and moving notes to the progressed section was appealing. I experimented with boldly writing goals on the shower screen in non-permanent pen. In bright colours my yearly goals were accompanied by affirmations and uplifting quotes. There was no missing them. They were quite ‘in your face’. I liked that too. Though I’m not sure I saw any progress.
This year, as I contemplated my visual treasure map, my son intervened. He sent me an invitation to view his goal list for the year. He was building accountability by sharing his goals and aspirations. I was honoured that he would consider me a worthy ally in his quest. The vehicle he chose to keep track of his goals is a tool called Trello. He encouraged me to use it too. My first challenge for the year.
I have a fairly open mind when it comes to technology but I’m awkward with it. I love pen and paper, I love building things and crafting things by hand. So I wasn’t at first impressed by it. It felt flat and bland and simply too hard for me to work out. Until one Saturday morning with a cup of tea I decided to explore a little more. I moved away from the way my son had used it and painted my own adventure. I created something I liked. I added some images for appeal and was quite happy with my creation. Doubt lingered however. I wasn’t convinced it would be as immediate, arresting and useful as my good old A5 photographic treasure map. It required a different set of behaviours and habits on my part for it to work. I can report, that two months later, with a little persistence and a change of attitude, I’m hooked.
I am pretty sure Trello was never designed for a middle-aged woman (despite how young at heart, vibrant and energetic she may be) to create her love list for the year. It is, however, a brilliant project management tool that can aid the smallest personal project through to the very largest corporate projects. It’s basically a great big empty wall you can fill with ‘post it’ notes to keep track of your stuff. You can add comments, create lists, add labels, cue due dates, send messages to other people in your project, label progress and that’s just in the free version. For a small fee there are loads more tools at user disposal. Oh, gosh, that sounds like an advertisement, doesn’t it? It’s not meant to be. I simply wanted to share a new tool that is working for me that may work for you.
It’s an extremely flexible tool too. Once you create your “post it notes” you can move them around and order them, you can insert new ones at will, discard them, batch or group them. I am finding it a useful place to hold my ideas, I can share them, I can ask for input from my son who I share my board with. My initial fears and concerns have been allayed. I am referring to it regularly to keep track of my progress and add new adventures. It’s fun and engaging. I could use it to plan an overseas holiday. I could also have used it to plan the multi million dollar project I am managing at work. If you are looking for a way to motivate your goal setting or a neat project management tool, check out Trello.
If, like me, you are a novice with technology, keep Walt Disney’s sentiment in mind – don’t be afraid to keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things. Being curious leads us down new paths and who knows where that will lead?