Like many of you, every year I make New Year’s resolutions. Some are lofty and ambitious. Others are simpler and easily attainable (if actually worked towards). However, I know I’m not alone when I say I can’t help but be a little disappointed when the year ends and not everything is checked off. This year, let’s approach our New Year’s resolutions differently so that we can set ourselves up for success.
Here are the 5 rules both you and I can follow to help actually achieve our New Year’s resolutions.
Rule #1: Write ‘em down
This is something I started doing last year and found it helped a lot in sticking to my resolutions. Don’t just write your goals down on a scrap piece of paper that can be misplaced or lost. Hang your list of resolutions up somewhere visible, such as your bedroom or office, so that each day you see them. By writing them down, you are committing yourself to those goals, and by displaying them you’re reminding yourself that they are important to you.
Rule #2: Avoid generalizations
Be healthier. Make more money. Have more fun. General goals like these are too vague and just about impossible to track. If you can’t track them, how are you supposed to know when you’ve accomplished them! Be specific when you set your goals. For example, instead of “make more money” aim for “earn $1,000 more each month.” Instead of “be healthier” say “plan out weekly meals” and “exercise three times per week.” It’s easy to lose motivation on a vague goal because there’s no quantifiable outcome and no plan for getting there. By being specific, you know what you want, and you have a basis for celebrating when you get there!
Rule #3: Set milestones
Many people, myself included, set resolutions and then forget about them until the last few months of the year. The result is a mad rush to get everything done during an already busy and hectic season – kind of like procrastinating on a school project until the night before it’s due. To avoid this unnecessary stress, set milestones for each resolution where you define doing “x” by “when.” This may be weekly, monthly, quarterly, or whatever works for you. This approach allows you to set – and remain on course – to attaining the desired outcomes throughout the year.
Rule #4: Ask why it’s important
One of my resolutions this year is to be more mindful of myself and my decisions. Part of that means asking why before I make commitments and set goals – something we all could benefit from doing. By understanding the “why” behind your goals, you can be clearer about what your motivation is – the reason it’s important to you. This additional step to goal-setting reveals some powerful motivators for helping you to remain focused over the next twelve months and succeed.
Rule #5: Adjust as needed
Life is a journey versus a destination. We can set goals, make plans, and enjoy the changes along the way. Yet, as we change, so do other aspects of our lives. There are also factors beyond our control that change. While change can be unsettling, it can also represent new opportunities. The good news is that having written your goals down, quantified them, set milestones and understood why they’re important to you, the easier it will be to make minor adjustments along the way.
“Yes,” it is a New Year, and “yes,” it’s a time for setting new resolutions. Fortunately, and with a little help from the above tips, we can be more in charge of their outcomes. Here’s to going forth, prospering and kicking some butt!