Monday, April 25, 2016

U is for united

When it comes to resolutions, I believe in sole proprietorship. Joint ventures are not my thing, because from my experience, they rarely work out. It may be tempting to think of having another person working towards exactly the same goals for company and motivation, but after a while, things go downhill.

I usually do not get into the 'Let's do this together and we will achieve it'. My motto in such cases has always been "Bhaiya, tum apne raste, main apne raste." It works for me because I'm generally not someone who needs any cheering or company when it comes to resolutions. I make my resolutions, and I work towards them, and I achieve most, if not all. Another reason for not getting into the whole 'let's motivate each other towards this goal' is that I would drive the other person completely mad. If I have agreed to play badminton and my baddy partner sends a message saying they overslept or are too tired to turn up, I will still turn up... not at the court, but at their home, drag them out of bed and thwack the living daylights out of them with my badminton racquet. Yep, I'm scary like that. And that's why I'm very anti-social when it comes to 'together-goals'. As I say, I am my own company and I am my own motivation.

Which is why, when Viv's cousin was discussing resolutions for 2016 with his and his sister during our December India trip last year, I chose to remain silent. I became silent-er (if that's even possible) when the discussed steered towards taking a united approach to resolutions. Oh dear lord, no. I was about to make a quick exit when something she said caught my attention.

SMART resolutions.

Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Realistic. Timely.

So instead of saying vague stuff like "I will drink more water" or "I will drown my sorrows in H2O", you say, "I'll drink 2 litres of water every day." Instead of saying, "I'll get fitter", you say, "I'll lose X kg in Y months." or "I'll run 5 km every day." Instead of saying, "I'll Skype more with parents.", you say "I'll Skype with them X times a week." These goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and have a time frame.

Now that she had my attention, I slunk back in my seat. Of course, setting goals is one thing, having a plan to achieve them is another, and actually achieving them is a whole other ball game. What she was suggesting was for us to have some kind of accountability about where we are with our goals after regular intervals. In essence, set SMART resolutions, share them with one another, and every month, be accountable about your progress.

The idea appealed to me very much. I did not have to share the same goals with someone, or work together with someone to achieve them. I could continue doing my own thing, but with a big difference. SMART goals and accountability.

So I signed up.

It's been four months into 2016, and I have to say this united approach has been working very well for all of us, as is evident in the emails we send at the end of the month, summarising our progress. Of course, it's not like we 'succeed' at every item every month, but it has helped.

It has helped me catch up on my travel blog -- I had several trips that I had not blogged about, and because I set specific targets (Jan: Chiang Mai; Feb: Telunas, Yercaud; Mar: Perth), I was able to complete all. This was so much better than 'Be more regular with travel blogging.' I would have never gotten to going back and blogging in detail about trips that happened years ago.

I also set a strange but important goal -- 'Go out for something -- anything -- without Xena once a month'. Because my day and life pretty much revolves around her, this weird resolution really helps me stay sane and preserve my sense of self. So I went for a dinner with a friend in January, had a Xena-less ladies' night at home with two old friends in February, had breakfast outside on a weekday (!) in March, and went for a movie with a friend in April.

I've already blogged about my resolution to learn to cook one new dish a month, and make it a part of our regular meals.

The biggest success, however, has to be in the field of my explosive headaches. From time to time, I suffer from these insane headaches that just won't go, and sometimes last the whole day and the next. They drive me crazy, but I had kind of learnt to live with them. I never thought 'prevent headaches' could be a new year resolution until I got into this SMART resolutions business. So I asked myself, "Why not?" and set a target 'Limit painkiller consumption to not more than 1 a month.' You see, the only way for me to get by my day when I get one of these mind-splitting headaches is to take a paracetamol tablet, so there is no question of cheating on this resolution by getting the headache but not taking the painkiller. I would not be able to function. It is that terrible. So the only way for me to was to really look into preventing it. And thanks to this resolution, I have really looked into all possibilities that trigger the headaches -- anaemia, being out in the sun, not having a substantial breakfast, long gaps between meals, not drinking enough water, not enough sleep -- and I've somehow worked out a way to (mostly) prevent them by taking measures. Because there are so many variables, and any random combination can cause the headaches, I'm still struggling, but at least I do what is in my hands. If you get persistent headaches, you are alone in it. No one else can help you. People can show sympathy, give you food and drinks and medicine, massage your head, help with your chores, give you a break, but the problem has not gone away. It will come back. They can't prevent it for you. Such things are between you and yourself. And only you can truly help yourself.

Of course, some resolutions take their time, but tracking them on a monthly basis shows me where I am. For example, I'm supposed to teach Xena the Hindi alphabet by the end of the year, and so far she has only learnt the vowels and three consonants. So I know that I need to gear up a little more. Another resolution is to take a course and learn something new by the end of the year, but so far I have not found any courses that have interested me enough and can fit into my schedule.

I never thought I'd say this, but I'm really glad I got into this united resolutions thingie. And for someone who's as 'hardass-lone-wolf' as I am on myself when it comes to resolutions, this has softened me a little. Into seeing how others can help you. In weird ways.

If you let them in. 


Arun said...

SMART! They used to make a big noise about SMART objectives at work, with a whole mini-industry of creating and trying to accomplish SMART objectives; but somehow it never worked. Kudos to you for making it work in the personal sphere!

As to being a hard-ass-loner, I applaud. It is the only way things work.

Sayesha said...

Haha! Yes, I remember the SMART objectives during appraisals and what a pain they were! :P Even I was surprised at how well the strategy works for resolutions though. :)