Starting Out Correctly

The Mystery of Unrealized Resolutions

Image courtesy of Simon Howden /

Image courtesy of Simon Howden / 


“Working on your New Year’s resolutions sir?” I asked, seeing The Effective Detective furiously working on his computer.

“Bah! Watson you should know that resolutions aren’t commitments, they are sweet nothings we whisper in our own ears to make us feel virtuous at the end of the year, and to minimize the guilt when we break them later, because, after all they were just resolutions,” the Detective answered, perhaps a bit sharply, reflecting his disdain for the term.

“Very well sir, perhaps New Year’s goals,” I responded.

“Slightly better Watson, but goals are only marginally better than resolutions,” he came back, puzzling me.

“Even S.M.A.R.T. goals sir?” I asked.

“It isn’t the goals or even the resolutions that are the problem Watson, it is the implementation process,” The Detective said in a much calmer tone, obviously warming up to the subject at hand.

“You see Watson, setting a goal is meaningless unless you have an action plan. I have reviewed processes that tell you to break down the goal into mini goals, but even that misses the point. The only thing that works reliably is to decide on the goal, then to actually document the process needed to reach the goal.”

“How would you document the process sir?” I asked, intrigued.

“That depends on how well the process is already defined Watson. One might have the steps to reaching a goal so well-defined that the steps merely need to be put into a calendar as things to accomplish each day to reach the goal. However, if the steps are not well-defined, which is really why most goal setting is useless – since even if you have a destination, without a map you will waste a large amount of time getting there, if you ever do – you need some tools to help you define those steps,” the Detective paused briefly before continuing.

“My favorite tool of course is a mind map. It allows me to not only sketch out the steps, but make ancillary notes regarding those steps so if there is something else I need to investigate I can make sure it is included. However it could be as simple as a list on paper. The critical thing is to document it in some way and to get the items scheduled, either on a calendar or as a daily list of things to do.

“Once you have the breakdown, then your goals are much more attainable, or you may realize that you have perchance bitten of more than you can chew. Whatever the case, you have a plan,” the Detective concluded.

“Sounds amazingly simple sir,” I said.

“Simple yes, but it takes commitment and above all perseverance,” said The Detective thoughtfully. “Which is why so many goals go by the way side.

“But hope springs eternal Watson! Let us wish all of our readers, friends, and family a happy New Year, and much success in reaching those elusive goals,” he exclaimed.

“An excellent sentiment sir,” I agreed, leaving him to his planning. May all have a happy and safe New Years celebration, and we look forward to resolving many more mysteries and cases in the coming year.

I love comments good and bad! Let me know what you think!