COLUMBIA — We have said goodbye to the months of celebration and resolutions; now let’s move on to the months of action, participation and accomplishment.
Annually, we commit ourselves to exercise, healthy eating and discipline for ourselves in the areas where we need control. When we do, we move closer to our life goals.
On the national scene, our eloquent president continues to make inspirational resolutions. The two political parties make resolutions as well.
All of the organizations that seek donations early in the year make the kind of promises that they think might encourage us to contribute to their causes. We wonder whether our donations to these organizations are worth our resources.
We look at the hardly used exercise machine in the corner of the room.
We generally can’t control how well others achieve their goals, but we can play a more effective role in making our resolutions come to fruition. Many of us might seek to actualize Martin Luther King Jr.’s dreams since we recently celebrated his birthday. Others of us have more personal dreams we might want to pursue, e.g. graduation, getting a job, finding that special someone or helping someone or some group. We may even resolve to quit judging people by what they have but rather by what they do. Hopefully we resolve to help others.
No matter what we choose to achieve, we can do it more efficiently if we develop a strategy for achieving it. Any strategy must be imbued with rigorous, proactive thought, planning and action. A useful tool for this process would be a calendar.
A calendar can provide us with a specific timeline in which we can plan to achieve certain attainable results. It can be our road map through 2011. With it we can consider our destination and each marker to be utilized to enable us to address our planned destination.
My mother valued our having new clothes for specific holidays during the year. She planned to buy items on sale during the off-season on layaway. When the holiday arrived, she would be able to provide us with the clothing.
Her method was a simple model of how we might approach our progress on addressing tasks and issues of personal, local, national and international importance to us.
We need to choose ownership of the goals we perceive as pertinent — to those worthy of our participation and resources.
We then need to create those small steps that lead us to our destination at the end of the calendar year.
Because there will be roadblocks and unforeseen occurrences — e.g.., economic, political and social changes — we need to develop a Plan B that might enable us to make appropriate adjustments to address unforeseen occurrences. We must also try to determine the resources we need to achieve our goals.
We might need people or organizational resources. We might need to determine how much we can achieve with and without various resources and what we will have to do if they don’t work out. Basically, this would be a Plan B related to people.
The process I am suggesting is not perfect. Still, we can have more impact on our lives if we begin taking steps immediately. We ought to be proactive rather than wait on things to happen to us. This process can be used for goals for decades and longer if we choose.
We can do a progress check in December. If we use this process, I promise when it is time to evaluate, our celebrations will be richer and our 2012 resolutions will be more meaningful.
“It must be borne in mind that the tragedy of life does not lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy of life lies in having no goal to reach.” — Benjamin Mays, former president of Morehouse College and mentor to Martin Luther King Jr.
William E. "Gene" Robertson is a Columbia resident and a professor emeritus at MU.