Anticipation is a key stage; by having something to look forward to, no matter what your circumstances, you bring happiness into your life well before the event actually takes place. In fact, sometimes the happiness in anticipation is greater than the happiness actually experienced in the moment—that’s known as “rosy prospection.” —Gretchen Rubin
The last thing I want to do is go through any significant length of time and end up asking myself the adage, “Did I shave my legs for this?”
This is probably why, a few weeks into the new year, I’m still hung up on resolutions. There are convincing arguments for both sides. The “make them” vs. the “don’t even bother” debate.
I had convinced myself I’m pro-resolution because I enjoy the feel of good intentions, that burst of euphoria that comes from envisioning a goal that sits just out of reach.
What I hadn’t considered was the possibility that resolutions and goals are completely different things.
Gretchen Rubin, author of “The Happiness Project,” pointed out that a goal is something you achieve, like running a 5k or reading five books in a month. A resolution is something you keep. It’s ongoing, like ingesting less processed food or gossip.
I’m on the bandwagon of selecting one particular word at the beginning of the year that becomes the basis for my choices, thoughts and actions. This year I chose the word “intention.”
At about the same time I chose that word I ran across the best thing I’ve heard in awhile, the acronym ASG. It stands for Arbitrary Stupid Goal.
It’s from a book I haven’t read yet by Tamara Shopsin, but even without knowing her story yet, I’m all over this idea. It could be the missing link between gigantic, overwhelming resolutions and actual real life.
She said, “A goal that isn’t too important makes you live in the moment and still gives you a driving force… with the ASG (arbitrary stupid goal) there is a point. It is not such an important point that you postpone joy to achieve it. It is just a decoy point that keeps you bobbing along, allowing you to find ecstasy in the small things, the unexpected, and the everyday.”
There’s a promise in intending to allow “stupid” into my planning that makes me feel especially hopeful about this year’s “success” rate.
Actor Ed Wynn said, “You take care of every day, let the calendar take care of the years.” If that’s the case, to partner with my ASGs and to satisfy a need to see things on paper, I found a fun, creative-inducing paper calendar full of big white boxes. (Thanks to Austin Kleon, check him out.)
Armed with ASGs and said calendar, I do believe I’ve found a match made in “intentional” heaven. The perfect scenario in which to intend on a few arbitrary stupid goals. And they have to be ongoing or what’s the point? Then there’s no way (or need) to measure the progress of my yearly resolutions because I’m taking Ed Wynn’s advice and taking care of every day. My funky artsy calendar will take care of the year.
Arbitrary? Why not?
Stupid? A matter of opinion.
Goals? Reduce the chance of shaving for absolutely nothing.
Shelley Plett is a graphic designer for the Free Press and Kansas Publishing Ventures. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.