Resolution 2 - Break it down

Published by Lori Pickert on January 4, 2011 at 03:15 PM

If you’re like the majority of us, you may have once made a resolution similar to “Lose 20 pounds.”

The problem with that resolution is that it contains about a dozen other good-sized resolutions like

— get up earlier

— exercise regularly

— drink more water

— stop eating junk food

— start eating healthy food

and on and on.

The problem with the “Lose 20 pounds”-type resolution is that it quickly reveals itself to be a big chaotic jumble of challenging tasks that gang up on us and overwhelm our best intentions.

Instead of making a giant resolution, break it down. Pick one of those packed-inside, good-sized resolutions and put it front and center. Say, “Walk for 20 minutes every day after lunch”. It’s concrete, it’s doable, and it puts you on the path to where you want to be.

Your long-term goal may be “Bobby is in charge of his own learning”, but a great resolution would be “Go to the library every Wednesday and help Bobby choose his own books”. Or, “Draw together every morning.” Or, “Write something in my project journal every day.”

Whatever your big goals for this year and onward, remember they are the end result of many small victories. Aim for a small victory.


Resolution 1 — It’s not all or nothing.

Resolution 2 — Break it down.

Resolution 3 — Take real baby steps.

Resolution 4 — Use the upward spiral.

Resolution 5 — Quit.


Comment by sarah :: greenclogs on January 4, 2011 at 06:10 PM

This is such a hard thing. I would really like a magic wand for achieving those big goals. Right now we're one step at a time. One day at a time. I had no idea (but should have) how much the baby would mess with my ability to keep the kids steered along on their journey. We're back to decent naptimes and some alone playing time for the baby, so we're slowly rebuilding our learning/living environment in a way that works for all of us. I'd love to just have it be there, but life isn't that way. Right now, small victories are where it's at.

small goal #1 - shower before noon every day.
small goal #2 - have something to show for the day, whether it's a good story to tell or project progress, or a feeling of well being.
small goal #3 - treat one another with kindness and grace (this one not achieved today. ugh)

Comment by Holly on January 4, 2011 at 06:35 PM

This is a great post. 'm good at breaking down my own, personal goals, but am overwhelmed at how to set DS free with his own project. I know it stems from his picking a huge topic, something unrealistic, and I have been paralyzed. But, if I break it down, start by just helping him to zero in, then it's a start; I'm already releasing the control. Somewhat free thinking here . . .

Comment by nancy on January 4, 2011 at 07:03 PM

I was so glad to see your post in my google reader today. Happy New Year to you! I had a mini meltdown on Sunday thinking of all things I should do in the New Year, and wanted to give up before I even started. I like your advice to start small. Thanks for the encouraging words.

Comment by Jacinda on January 4, 2011 at 08:56 PM

Gosh, you are superb Lori. I'm so pleased your back. Such insight and so well written. Thanks.

Comment by Mamie on January 5, 2011 at 01:37 PM

Yeah! You are back! I especially needed to hear how important it is to break down the goal of making my kindergarten-age daughter into a self-led learner. This is our first year of homeschooling, and even with my unschooling leanings, I find myself picking out most of the library books, making more suggestions than I should and feeling the need to throw in school-like lessons a couple days a week. I am going to sit down today and write down a few achievable goals instead of feeling guilty or wondering how and when she is going to take charge of her own learning. Thanks, Lori! So glad to be reading here again!

Comment by Lori Pickert on January 5, 2011 at 03:31 PM

sarah, those are good small goals. :) they add up to a good day.

babies may throw a monkey wrench into all your plans, but dang, they are the cutest monkey wrenches ever.

the reality is, babies and other family developments, health problems, unplanned relocations, job issues .. they're always around mucking up our best-laid plans. when are we ever going to get a streamlined, problem-free 12 months in a row, right? it's just another life lesson the kids can absorb. ;)

enjoy your small victories!


hi holly. one thing to consider .. even if the topic is huge (and possibly unrealistic ;), he has to start *somewhere*. there has to be one starting point, the thing he is going to do first, and that is, by definition, a smaller and more realistic step.

you can help him break down his own topic (goal) by saying "okay, what's first?" even if he chooses a library book with a giant subject (say, the universe!), there is some singular focus that is going to grab his attention first, some particular fact he is going to share at dinner, some idea that really lights up his mind. the process of project learning *is* breaking things down.

releasing the control, btw, is a great small goal. ;)

keep free thinking and let me know how it goes!

thank you, nancy. xoxoxo and happy new year to you, too, friend. don't give up on what you want to accomplish, but be easier on yourself. ;) and keep me informed!

jacinda, thank you thank you, what a lovely compliment to jumpstart my day! :) thank you so much, and come back on saturday for the open thread. i want to know what you've been up to.

hi mamie, and thank you! guilt definitely works against making slow and steady progress .. guilt always wants you to achieve more, faster .. it's never satisfied!

you're halfway there because you see exactly where you are stepping over the line. you just need to dial things back a bit and let her come forward. and remember that every small thing she does on her own is a success -- she is taking charge of her own learning, bit by bit. somewhere down the line, you may be able to say -- oh, look! and she'll be doing what you always imagined she would. in the meantime, just keep working on helping her take over more responsibility, pursue more of her own ideas. you're on the right path!

Comment by Dawn Suzette on January 7, 2011 at 11:46 PM

Ha! Two of my "projects" this year are to be more organized & productive.
No problem! Right?!
Break it down...
Organized - Write it all down in my journal. Keep it all in one place... not little tiny slips of paper stacked up and scattered all about.
Productive - fold laundry right when I take it out of the dryer.
I figure once I get those two little steps mastered I can add something else in that space to work on.
You are so right. Those resolutions can sneek up on you with lots of big & little resolutions to go along with them.

Comment by Lori Pickert on January 8, 2011 at 04:10 PM

haha, more organized and productive .. i'm definitely taking baby steps in that area. ;)

i bought new folders...

keeping everything in one place, journal-wise, is a great idea. i know i say this all the time, but post-its are so great if you are a tiny note taker and slip-of-paper user. you can collect little notes everywhere and then stick them into your journal and organize them as you stick them in. it works! i even have a tiny post-it pad in my sweater pocket. ;)

good luck with your resolutions! :)

Comment by Dawn Suzette on January 9, 2011 at 06:41 AM

Funny you should mention that because on your advice I have been using post-its and love it.
When you first mentioned it I was not sold. I just love the idea of recycling my old papers into tiny note papers... but it was not working. I went with the post-its and it is working great. The thing I like about it is that I can put things in my journal that I think of or questions they have and then later I can write those things in if I want to keep them or just toss the post-it when the information is no longer needed.
Now my little recycled bits are used for shopping lists... or for starting the fire in the morning!

Comment by Lori Pickert on January 10, 2011 at 02:59 PM

post-its are great for people who don't want to have to drag their journal around. also people who can't remember where they put their journal. :)

you can still use those recycled old papers for making blank books for the kids. so all is not lost! :) (lol starting the fire!)

i'm glad the post-it method is working well for you. i like the fact that i can stick them in onto the appropriate pages, then move them around if i need to. post-it editing on the fly. sometimes moving post-its around helps me make connections i might have missed if i just had pages of linear notes.

you are so very welcome, and thank YOU! :)

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