New Year’s is hard for everyone. Don’t make things even more difficult by overwhelming yourself with judgment, criticism and guilt.
Maybe the word “resolution” is the wrong word and the wrong angle with which to approach the new year.
Set a “goal.” If you set a concrete goal for yourself you are more likely to reach it.
The concept of setting concrete goals and holding yourself accountable is most important here. Sharing your goal with a friend is another way to be accountable. Get an accountability buddy!
You may already have heard of S.M.A.R.T. goals, but this is a good time for a refresher.
Specific: A specific goal has a greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal. To set a specific goal you must answer the question: “What exactly do I want to accomplish?” Identify any requirements and constraints, and consider the benefits in your life once the goal is achieved.
Measurable: How much? How many? How will I know when I’ve accomplished my goal? Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward reaching each goal you set. When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates and experience the thrill of achievement that spurs you on to continued effort required to reach your goal.
Attainable: When you find the goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills and financial capacity to reach them. You begin seeing overlooked opportunities to bring yourself closer to your goals. You can meet most any goal you set when you plan your steps wisely and set up a time frame that allows you to carry out those steps. Goals that may have seemed far away and out of reach eventually move closer and become attainable, not because your goals shrink, but because you grow and expand to match them.
Realistic: To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. A goal can be both high and realistic; you are the only one who can decide just how high your goal should be.
Timely: A goal should be grounded within a time frame. With no time frame tied to it, there’s no sense of urgency. If you want to lose 10 pounds, when do you want to lose it by? “Someday” won’t work. If you anchor it within a timeframe, “by April 1st”, then you’ve set your unconscious mind into motion to begin working on the goal.
Here are two more principles to set yourself up for success in achieving your goals: “smallest action” and “already doing.”
What’s the smallest action you can take today for the biggest impact? Small changes over time create big results. The greatest architectural wonders were not built in one day, but over time, brick by brick.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Lao Tzu
And many more single steps after that.
What are you already doing really well? What could you be doing better? How can you take what you are already doing well, and do it even better? Incremental shifts in our efforts will add up over time.
Finally, write the goal down. You could even write it in an email to yourself marked deliver on December 31, 2015: “This is what I accomplished this past year.”
With this approach, you will have a lot to celebrate next New Year’s Eve!