LifeBeans: Jelly Beans for Keeping Your Resolutions
There are the ways we want to live our lives, the things we want to achieve, and the things we would like to do better, and the things we need to do. It’s important to make distinctions amongst these things, not only in understanding them, but in managing them.
Terms often confused, and sometimes misused:
- A general and high-level statement that guides your decision-making, and your choice of resolutions and goals.
- “I will live a life true to my passions and interests.”
- “I will be lucid and in good standing in personal states of health, emotions, intellect, close relationships, and finances.”
- “I will treat others with the understanding and belief that all human behavior stems from the desire to be loved.”
- An unquantifiable change you would like to make, usually in-line with a principle that you have.
- “I will keep in touch with my good friends.”
- “I will exercise more.”
- “I will take more time off to do the things I enjoy.”
- Something quantifiable or binary that you would like to achieve. Keep in mind that these are often bananas.
- “I will graduate from Law School.”
- “I will start a business.”
- “I will solve a Rubik’s Cube.”
- An action that needs to get done.
- “Buy dental floss.”
- “Take out trash.”
- “Let the dawgs out.”
How These Work Together
So, your principles guide your resolutions and goals, but what about these resolutions? They’re unquantifiable, so how do you know when you’re keeping them? How much is exercising more? You could set up exercise as a goal, such as “I will run 30 minutes three times a week,” except now you have all sorts of goals to track and manage, from the higher-level “buy a house” to the more granular “run 30 minutes, three times a week,” or three individual goals of “run 30 minutes” that go on your weekly list of to-dos. I don’t know about you, but having that range of granularity in goals is a bit exhausting to me.
And running 30 minutes three times this week isn’t exactly a to-do either. Not in the sense that “pick up Leslie at school” is, anyway. If you don’t run three times this week, then you get less exercise. If you don’t pick up your daughter from school, you’ll probably have more pressing consequences than you will from running only twice this week.
Resolving to Keep Resolutions – with Prescriptions!
I prefer to manage my resolutions with prescriptions. Think about the resolutions you’ve had, and they probably relate more to a personal ill than the items on your to-do list. “Get in shape” is very personal, where as “buy a box of Kix for Tommy” is just something that you have to do – so I feel this term is fitting.
- A recommended alottment of a particular activity that helps one achieve the effect desired by their resolutions.
Think about that prescription of running 30 minutes three times a week, now. Now it’s more like a vitamin. If you forget to take a multivitamin some day – be realistic here – it’s not that big of a deal. It would be damn nice if you could take your prescribed “dose” of running 30 minutes three times this week, but if you only run 30 minutes twice this week, or you run 20 minutes one time this week, thinking it’s the end of the world is probably worse for you than the fact that you failed to take your whole “dose.”
Not only does a prescription separate the real high-level goals from the granular ones, it also separates those “shoulds” from the “have to’s.”
Taking Your Chill Pills
Psychologically, prescriptions are a totally different phenomenon from to-dos, and managing them calls for a system that is different from your typical to-do list(s).
Introducing LifeBeans – actually, they’re just Jelly Belly® jelly beans. I have four piles, one for daily, one for weekly, one for monthly, and one for yearly, and each prescription has its own flavor, or color, of jelly bean to go along with it. Here are some example prescriptions:
- Watermelon: go on one hike a month.
- Tutti Fruitti: plan one social gathering a month.
- Peach: cook one meal at home per week.
- Blueberry: leave California once every two months, leave the United States once per year.
You may notice I have more trouble reminding myself to do the things I enjoy than I do reminding myself to do the things that I need to do. Whenever I take one of the “pills,” I just take the appropriate jelly bean out of it’s circle. Having a tactile (and colorful) representation of the things I need to remember to do to enjoy life makes it easier to keep track of those things.
What are some of the prescriptions you have for yourself to keep your resolutions, and what flavor jelly bean will you use for them?
P.S. I’m teaming up with some all-stars to make something that will help you manage your mind. Stay tuned. You’ll learn about it in early 2014.