Every New Year, people all over set resolutions. Because these resolutions are frequently dropped, some people will tell you that New Year’s resolutions are worthless. The reality is that any resolution is worthless if you don’t truly invest in it. The problem lies in people saying they want something different, but then having no desire to change their habits. The bottom line is this, if you truly want to make a change, you will need to spend some time investing in how to make that resolution a reality. Here are 5 key steps to making a resolution stick.
1. Dream BIG, but make sure your goals are measurable
Too often people make resolutions or set goals that aren’t measurable and as a result are unlikely to be achieved. You will find it much easier to set smaller goals and make a plan if you start with a goal that is clearly measurable. Being able to measure a goal means you have a defined amount or thing you are going to achieve. For example, if you want to lose weight, then a measurable goal would say exactly how much you want to lose and in what time period would you do it. Instead of saying you want to lose weight for your New Year’s resolution, you would say, “I will lose 25 lbs in the next 12 months.”
Do you struggle to get birthday presents to family? Are you frequently forgetting your niece’s birthday? A specific and measurable goal in this case may be to not forget to send your nieces birthdays presents this year. Perhaps, you’ve routinely forgotten your Anniversary, Mothers day, or another important day. You could set a goal that states this will not happen this year.
2. Set short term goals to help you achieve your long term goals
The next step is to build some smaller goals to help you achieve your big resolution. If you want to ace your chemistry class this semester, then setting smaller goals will help you keep in line day to day, so you can achieve the bigger goal. In this case, you’d have goals for what grade you hope to achieve with each test, quiz, or project and this would give you the frame work to ace the class. If you want to make an “A” in chemistry, then your test scores on each test need to reflect that ultimate goal.
If you want to lose the 25 lbs in 12 months as stated above, then you may have smaller goals of losing 1 lbs every 2 wks and exercising 45 minutes 3-4x each week. You will notice that even these smaller goals are ultimately measurable. Again, this will help you stay on track with your bigger goals.
3. Make a plan to achieve those short and long term goals
This is where you really set yourself up for success. Ultimately, you have to have a plan to achieve all these goals and if you don’t have a plan to succeed, you have a plan to fail. If you want to make an “A” on each test, you have to know what you’ll do to achieve this grade. Will you review the chapter before the lecture? Study with a tutor? Review your notes after each lecture? Devote dedicated time each week to study prep? Exactly what you do is up to you, but decide ahead of time what you’ll do to make your resolution a reality.
What about the exercise plans? When are you going to exercise? What about your diet? You may plan to record your food intake daily so you know how many calories you are consuming. Then you can compare that with your fitbit’s calories burned. You don’t have to have the latest fad diet, but you do need a plan.
If you struggle with gift giving, see if you can get your family to use GettaGift. This is a free app that allows you to create beautiful list using your phone’s camera and a bar code scanner. The list can be shared with multiple contacts and if you have several siblings, you’ll find coordinating those gift days with other family members much easier.
4. Expect adversity and be ready with a solution
Really, this is a part of having a good plan. Before you ever start your endeavor, you have to realize that things are not always going to go the way you think. Most all of us have a bias that expects good things to happen, but most people get bad news during the course of a year. Your plan for success has to include how you’ll handle difficulties.
You may have planned to study for the test the night before, but then you ate some bad Mexican food and ended up hugging Pamela poddy the whole night. If you’ve been following your plan all along, you’ll have a chance. If you’re working on the weight loss and your significant other breaks up with you, this is not the time to pound the ice cream. Have a plan for how you’ll handle bad news.
If you’re pursuing something that involves significant will power, then you should definitely have a plan for when you know you’ll be tempted. You’ll have a much better chance staying on track if you have already rehearsed what you’ll do.
5. Don’t give up
This is it. Far too often we start something and give up too easily. We have a rough week and throw in the towel for the whole resolution instead of just restarting. We assume that results are going to come quickly or that there will be no set backs. In reality, progress is rarely a straight line. You’ll have good days and you’ll have bad days. You’ll have good weeks and bad weeks. You’ll have some months that are better than others, but if you keep working toward your goals, even if you don’t fully reach them, you’ll likely be closer to achieving them than you would have been had you never started.
So, there you have it. Five ways to rock your New Year’s Resolution. Keep in mind though, it doesn’t have to be the New Year to make a change for the better.