That means 120 million people just like you and me set new goals on January 1st. Today more than 1.9 million people have already lost the battle. And tomorrow another 328,000 people will have involuntarily (or voluntarily) thrown their resolutions into the discard pile.
Let’s face it. When it comes to New Year’s resolutions…people are dropping like flies.
This does not have to be your story.
You can choose where your resolutions end up at the end of the year – in the mile-high discard pile or on your list of accomplishments. My question is what can you do to prevent your new goals from ending up in the bottomless pit of broken resolutions? The first step is figuring out the difference between goals in the big pile and those on the list.
Simply stated, a resolution is something that you hope to accomplish in the coming year. Once you assign a timeframe to the resolution, it turns into a goal. The gaps between dreams and reality stop the best resolutions from becoming accomplished goals. Here are some action items you can use to bridge those gaps.
- Make it big. Resolutions come in all shapes and sizes. The 5 item list. The descriptive paragraph. The vision board. All of these components contain valuable info about you. Valuable insight like personal values that motivate you to achieve the goals you set. You can unpack personal motivators to gauge your commitment level to the goals you’ve set.
- Make it actionable. While broad goal areas reveal what is important to you, they can also turn into a house of cards without strategies to support them. It’s important to break the goals down into manageable chunks and action steps that you can schedule into your smartphone calendar. Just remember, it takes about 21 days to start a new habit so taking consistent steps will yield progress.
- Be realistic. Correctly engaging the process of goal setting connects your future with your present and makes use of your past accomplishments. Consider a middle-aged professional who celebrates her 20th anniversary in August and sets a goal to lose 50 pounds to fit into her old wedding dress. This goal may or may not be realistic, but it contains vital information about her that can lead to fulfilment in life. That’s what effective goals are designed to do. They are milestones that ladder up to the life you want. I have found that my best goals help me to see how my actions already contribute to my vision for the future. When my goals share a common thread, I don’t feel pulled in different directions.
- Add a social component. One of my coaching clients drew my attention to the social benefit of goal setting. I asked how she could be more successful in meeting her health goals. She responded “by telling my co-workers and friends so they will understand when I have to pass on the homemade cookies.” I am not talking about posting your dreams, goals and resolutions on Facebook with wild abandon. Resolutions are like dreams – not everyone will understand them. The right mix of support, encouragement and accountability can make the difference between the discard pile and the accomplishments list at year’s end.
- Make it yours. I can always tell when my daughters do not want to go to bed. They linger in the living room, drag their feet down the hallway, and sometimes will even volunteer to clean up around the house. Their goal is not to go to bed at 8:30. Their goal is to stay up as late as possible and they consistently win me over with the “5 more minutes” negotiation strategy. You can probably tell when a goal that you set is not really yours because of your lack of commitment to achieve them. Goals that are disconnected from your life take you in opposite directions of what you want. Making sure your resolutions reflect something that you really want or need to do will increase your commitment level to accomplish them.
- Identify obstacles ahead of time. Goals require you to negotiate with yourself and others to accommodate and navigate the obstacles that life presents. External obstacles are easier to identify than internal obstacles. We all have positive and negative beliefs about ourselves. These beliefs either support or stop us from achieving goals. If you can identify things about yourself that may stop you from achieving a goal, then you can choose how to overcome that internal obstacle. The earlier you can identify and plan for obstacles, the better your chances of staying the course.
- Create a plan you can see your dreams through. Small business is trending away from long business plans that are set in stone. Similarly, a concrete plan will not capture the dynamics of your dreams. But a crystallized plan projects your dream onto the horizon while inspiring you to achieve the goals of fulfilment in life. The litmus test for your resolutions is to ask yourself “do the plans I have created reflect my hopes and dreams? Do they line up with my deepest and highest desires? Do my plans align with my personal value system?” While the pieces of your long-term plan are coming together, you can make strides on goals that match the resources (physical, mental, financial, etc.) that are available to you right now.
You can set new goals at any time. You don’t have to wait for another new year. The key is having the process, support and desire to achieve the goals you set. If you have dreams that you are turning into goals, I would like to invite you to visit my coaching preview page to learn more about participating in a free 30-minute life coaching preview that I am excited to offer for the first time this year.