A new year needs new standards

With the commencement of a New Year comes the creation of resolutions. Yes, as corny as it sounds, I truly do want to improve myself and, at the beginning of each year, I brainstorm to discern what resolutions will guide me to my goals and help me better myself. In the past, I would write my resolutions down and then promptly forget them. I would then fumble my way through the year. (Yes, I have followed through on a few resolutions, but it tended to be happenstance more than dedicated effort.) I decided that this year I would try a new approach.

I read a number of articles about resolution making. Some experts (and I have no idea as to what you need to do to be considered an expert at resolution setting) suggested making goals with very concrete and measurable goals (say, lose 30 pounds). Others said to focus on a process and not a goal (eat less and move more). Another method that’s gaining popularity is to have a theme for the year (for example, healthy eating or snack-free living), while some writers suggested focusing exclusively on habits or practices you need to quit (snacking, smoking, oversleeping). All these methods are helpful to some and useless to others. I decided on another method I don’t see covered anywhere. It is setting standards.

Viktor Frankl, an Austrian neurologist, said that man is “pushed by drives and pulled by values”. While we may have many desires that motivate us, our values clarify what is worth pursuing. Before you can improve your life, you need to define your values. Once you define your values, you can set standards, which are the measuring sticks that let you know if you are living your life as you intend to live it. Frankly, my life has changed a lot in the last two years due to various occurrences (job loss, hitting sixty, some health issues) and I think it is time to take a look at my needs, wants, and abilities and evaluate my standards. Am I making a concerted effort to be the best I can be? (I want to read more and eat healthier.) Are there areas where I need to possibly set some new standards? (Housekeeping comes to mind.) Are there standards I can discard as they no longer serve a purpose? (I am no longer on a career path, which changes my standards of suitable employment.)

While it is important to set goals and evaluate how you go through your day and live your life, setting standards will help you live your life according to your values. Of course, your values may change and your standards will follow suit. Such is personal growth. (Although some standards, such as always being on time or telling the truth may remain constant through your life.) In the end, living according to your standards is a life well lived.

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