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Adams: SMART resolutions

Posted: January 2, 2018 - 5:16pm

I can still hear my mother's voice echoing in the kitchen on New Year's Day 2007, as she caught a glance at my long list of resolutions, saying, "What do you mean ‘To get more organized'? What kind of resolution is that? How will you know you're more organized than you were last year?"

Organization has been a persistent theme yet elusive accomplishment of my resolution lists for the past 20 years. Other vague goals, such as "increasing focus," "improving time management," "simplifying," and "finding balance," have accompanied "getting more organized."

My mother disapproves of them all. She refuses to silently witness inevitable failure cloaked in alluring self-improvement. "Why make a resolution to do something like that," her disapproving voice questions from the recesses of my memory. And I know she's right.

That's why this year I'm going to make SMART resolutions.

Reading that sentence, my mother probably thinks I'm being a SMARTY PANTS about the subject, but I'm not. That acronym - SMARTY PANTS - is too long to work with efficiently, so I'm sticking with SMART resolutions as recommended by the experts and expanded upon by me.

S is for Specific: Instead of blabbering on about organization, which each individual interprets differently, state the intention to divide clean clothes into one pile and dirty clothes into another.

"Getting more organized" means something when we attach it to herding the forks, spoons and knives into their own compartments in the flatware tray.

M is for Measurable: This step requires quantification of the resolution. For example, I may choose to limit the number of dirty clothes piles to three or I may require that my family retrieve their clean clothes from the respective pile at least twice a week. Making my resolution measurable amounts to designating the number of times, to what degree, how much organization I will add, and how much disorganization I will subtract to reach my goal.

A is for Achievable: This means I must keep the above measurements in check and moderate my expectations. In other words, go easy on myself, which likely means I'll be resolving to "get more organized" again next year.

R is for Relevant: Ask the existential questions. Does this help achieve my life goals? Does organization matter in the end? Am I the sum total of my sorted socks? Does my place in the order of the universe depend on maintaining separation of the clean pile and the dirty pile?

T is for Time-bound: In other words, don't take all year getting organized. It's unhealthy to have it hanging over one's head, which impedes another ambiguous resolution "to get healthier." Set a deadline to get it done by or to let go of the dream once the deadline passes.

A is for Avoid: Resolutions, particularly STUPID (Seen, Talked about, mis-Understood, Picked apart, Identified as Dumb) ones should, after a sufficient effort at slapping at them, be avoided and ignored. If vigor doesn't wane within a month or a few, you haven't made a resolution. You've just developed another bad habit that people will expect you to continue from now to forever.

S is for Slander: Expect it. Anyone privy to your resolution list will begin in February or March to say, "I thought you said you were getting more organized this year." Then this person will comment to others, "She said she was going to get more organized this year, but lawd if I can tell."

S is for Secret: Don't let your mother read your resolutions over your shoulder. The risk of slander demands that you keep them to yourself. Secrecy separates the STUPID resolutions from the SMART ones.

Lucy Adams is the author of Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run and other books. She lives in Thomson, GA. Email Lucy at lucyadams.writer@gmail.com, and have a Happy New Year!

 

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