‘Tis time for New Year’s Resolutions, which alongside Goal Setting and Performance Appraisals may be the most utterly useless exercise that humans indulge in.
In corporate jargon, goals need to be “S.M.A.R.T”, i.e. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. New Year Resolutions are, in contrast, “D.U.M.B” (Distant, Unclear, Malleable, Bullshit). Giving yourself the long leash of a year to become a better, fitter, prettier, healthier, richer person (or whatever else you desire to be) is a self con.
We are all perfect, rational, healthy, smart, pretty, and happy people in the future. But who will get us there if not our present self who is out to self-delude?! Truth is that we do not treat our future selves too well. In fact we treat them quite badly not just through active mistreatment of ourselves (gluttony, over-spending, too much drinking, laziness, procrastination…) but also by bumping responsibility for saving, getting fit, losing weight, being [truly] happy on to them. So in some sense, our interests are competing with our future selves.
Ergo, remember that your competition isn’t your co-worker, fight partner, classmate, boss, spouse, kids….IT IS YOU!
Go with daily goals, even weekly goals but no longer. Benchmark yourself, compete with yourself. A personal example: for the past 15-16 years, my specific goal has been to see myself as the fittest I have ever been. This helps me to a) work on improving myself continually; and b) realize that I cannot rest on my achievements since there is tomorrow to think about. With some effort, this goal has been mostly realized. I may or may not be able to outrun the average 18 year old today but I can certainly outrun my 18 year old self (and the others who followed) if he were to come Back To The Future. For this I cannot pat my own back; I have that 18 year old and his successors to thank for the sacrifices they made and the hard work they put in for their future self, me.
This new years (months, weeks, days, and moments) fight yourself and your laziness, set goals that compare you with you, and mind incrementalism:
Positive Incrementalism Negative Incrementalism
Drops maketh the ocean, each Paisa the Crore, Milligrams the KG, and Steps the Marathon.
2 thoughts on “New Year Resolutions are ‘D.U.M.B’”
You compete with yourself – there is a nice story I heard about this idea and how M K Gandhi used it.
Once Gandhi had invited Congress people to fill up jails of the Empire. That left the school at his Ashram in Sewagram, Nai Talim, short of teachers. So he decided to teach the kids himself. Week one he gives them a test and marks answers. Next week another test. A boy comes to him and says “Bapu, xyz wrote wrong things and got more marks than I”. Gandhi says to the boy “Who told you that you are being compared to him? You did poorly this week as compared to how YOU did last week, Hence the lower marks. xyz did better, hence higher marks.”
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Spot on. The whole relative grading and bell curve nonsense just leads to futile competition with everyone around without focusing on what really matters.
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