DickersonBakker Blog

Do You Have Mushy New Year’s Resolutions?

Oatmeal is a classic breakfast food. Every Sunday, I get up early and make it for my family. All in all, it takes me about an hour or so to make. However, it is worth the work for the warm and nutty, sweet and spicy goodness that is satisfying to the palate and full of health benefits for the body. Sadly, though, there are many people who do not like oatmeal because they have really only had it in the instant variety. These people either choke it down because it is “good for them” or simply opt for Coco Crispies instead. Instant oatmeal exists because it is quick and palatable enough to get by, not because it is good.

New Year’s resolutions of all kinds are too often just like instant oatmeal. Nonprofit leaders create them in an instant because it is “that time of year” or because their board expects them to. However, despite their expedient creation, they are unproductive and unsatisfying. You can tell an instant oatmeal goal by its vague nature, such as “we will raise more money this year.” Of course, because instant oatmeal goals are not effective, some nonprofit leaders avoid goal setting altogether.

Here are a few thoughts to help your New Year’s goal setting efforts gain traction.

  • Carve out some time. Solid goal setting takes time (just like great oatmeal!). Schedule a block of several hours or more to review what you accomplished last year and determine what you want to do differently this year.
  • Get specific. Keeping your goals focused and specific will make them more meaningful and easier to evaluate. What do you want to accomplish? By when? Who will be responsible? How will it be evaluated?
  • Get real. While it is good to stretch, ask yourself if your goals are attainable and sustainable.
  • Keep it short. Eighty-three goals in a year are too much. Focus on the five to seven things that will have the most impact in the year to come.
  • Create a plan. Trying harder is not a plan for success. Instead, craft a plan for what you will do differently from prior efforts to achieve this success.
  • Share your goals. Sharing your goals with your board, your colleagues, or a coach is helpful in two ways. First, you can get an outsider’s perspective on whether the goals are clear and realistic. It is common for goals to be set too low or too high. Second, sharing goals help provide accountability and support.

Need help setting realistic goals during this unprecedented time? Contact us and we’ll help you set and achieve your goals for the coming year.

Here’s one of our favorite oatmeal recipes. Tell me how you like it!

Raisin & Spice Oatmeal


  • 3/4 C. raisins
  • 4 C. water
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 C. steel or “Irish” cut oats
  • 1 C. whole pecans
  • 2 C. milk or almond milk (unsweetened)
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar (I prefer dark, but either works)
  • 2 tbsp. butter (can be omitted for dairy-free)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

Reconstitute raisins by adding to a small pot and adding water to cover. Put on a back burner at the lowest setting. After 10 minutes, shut off burner and let sit in water until needed later.

Bring a pot of the water and salt to a boil.

Meanwhile, lightly toast oats in a 12” skillet or fry pan on medium-low heat. The color we are looking for is the difference between white bread and lightly toasted toast. I recommend reserving a quarter cup of the oats for comparison. Stir or toss frequently.

Bring water burner temperature down to low and slowly and carefully add oats to boiling water. Oats may boil over if you add them too fast.

Slowly simmer for 15 minutes, stirring every 4 minutes. Oats should absorb most of the water.

While oats are simmering, use the toasting pan to slowly toast pecans on low, turning or tossing frequently for about 12 minutes. They will burn easily, so watch them. Slow is the way to go. You can tell they are done by comparing them visually and by taste with a raw pecan. (For ease, this step can be done up to a day before.)

When oats have absorbed water, stir in milk, cinnamon, cloves, and brown sugar. Let slowly simmer another 10-15 minutes, stirring every 4 minutes.

When oats have thickened, taste for doneness. Oats should have a little chew to them like al dente pasta. Add more spices or sugar to taste.

When done, remove from heat and stir in butter, vanilla, and drained raisins.

Serve the oatmeal with a side of pecans as a garnish. Enjoy!

Note: Leftover oatmeal will keep well in the refrigerator for one week. Simply reheat in microwave and then add milk to desired consistency.


Banana Nut Oatmeal

Mash 3-4 ripe bananas and add to oatmeal in step 9. Toast walnut pieces and add in step 9 as well. Omit raisins, pecans, and cloves.

Blueberry Almond Oatmeal

Add 1-½ cups of fresh blueberries to oatmeal in step 9. Serve with almond slices and an ounce of cream or milk as a garnish. Omit raisins, pecans, and cloves.

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