Countdown to the New Year: Four More Working Days

“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” – The Bible (Hebrews 13.2)

Christmas is over.

We’re closing in on the end of 2002 and almost ready to make our New Year’s resolutions for the coming year. In other words, it’s “last-chance” time — your last chance to do something about the resolutions you made last January.


Take out your list of goals. If you organized them the way I suggested, you should have four categories: health, wealth, personal, and social. In each category, you might have assigned yourself five or 10 specific objectives. (I’m looking at my list as I write this. I was enthusiastic last January. I gave myself 41 wealth-building objectives, 20 social ones, 32 health goals, and the same number of goals in the personal-development area.)

Now cross out all those you completed, draw dashes through all those you left half-finished, and circle any you never even started. (In the health area, I completed 23 objectives, partially completed eight, and failed to start one — getting into yoga. In the personal-development area, I wasn’t as successful, completing only 13 goals, starting 16, and failing to start three. In the social area — my primary mission this year — I worked on all 20 of my goals but don’t feel as if I “completed” any of them. Strangely, in the wealth-building area — which ranked last on my list of priorities this year — I achieved or exceeded all my goals.)

Now that you have that work done, spend a few minutes thinking about it. Try to figure out why you accomplished some things and not others. (In my case, I have to ask myself: “How serious was I about making social goals my priority?”) If your experience is like mine, you will have to keep asking these questions for a while. In the meantime, you have a few days left to improve your marks before the ETR school year is over.

Make a special list of every goal you didn’t start. Eliminate any that you left undone because you had a good reason. Now figure out what you can do — in the short time that’s left to you this year — to make a stab at these undone objectives.

This may seem a little silly to you. If you haven’t started on them in 11 months, after all, what’s the chance you will do anything significant in a few short days? The objective, of course, is not to finish off your list but to get you over the psychological hump that you’ve been stuck behind.

Recognize that you have time only to make a start, but understand that even if you make the smallest start, you’ll feel a lot better about yourself come next week, when it will be time to rate your progress and start setting goals all over again.

(In my case, I’m going to find a yoga class somewhere in town tomorrow and attend it. And tonight, I’ll spend 15 minutes outlining on paper the plan I have in my head for a nonprofit artisan center.)

There is certainly something you can do to get each of your non-starts started. Spend some time now figuring that out. Remember, even 15 minutes today is a legitimate start. Get out that list and get going.

[Ed. Note.  Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]