So the new year is almost here and it is time to think about your resolutions. Your goals may be to finally give up a bad habit, lose a little weight, broaden your intellectual horizon, or even commit to be more generous. Whatever your resolutions for a new year are, here are a few keys that will help you be successful in making and keeping them.
1. Define the Win. Many people make mistakes of making very general goals and never end up keeping them. It’s one thing to say, “I want to lose weight” and entirely another thing to say, “I want to lose 50 pounds by Thanksgiving.” Fifty pounds is a defined win. When you state, “I want to lose weight.” you have defined a direction, but you haven’t defined a measurable goal line. How will you know when you have lost enough? You can always make another goal later.
Here are some abstract goals that have been better defined to understand a win.
I want to read more – I will read 12 books this year (1 book a month)
I want to eat better – I will eat a minimum of 2 vegetables a day
I want to exercise more – I will run 500 miles this year.
I want to be more generous – I will give 15% of my income away this year.
2. Make smaller goals along the way. In football there are two lines that really matter. The official goal-line where all the points are scored and the first-down line where a team advances ten yards and gets 4 more shots at the goal-line. The smaller goal of the first-down marker is often what really advances the ball and helps teams make it across the bigger goal-line that counts. Create for yourself smaller goals that you can achieve on a weekly or monthly basis that will help you achieve your bigger goal. If your goal is to read twelve books a year, that translates into one book a month. If you want to lose 50 pounds, that’s roughly one pound a week. Make smaller goals and celebrate when you’ve reached them. celebrating small successes along the way will give you the momentum you need to reach your bigger goal.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your goal may be something huge like to quit smoking. Do some research and consult some people or products that are geared to help you. If you want to lose weight, don’t be afraid to consult your doctor and even sign up to meet a trainer at the gym. If you want to read more, ask someone you know who reads a lot and ask them for strategy and tips.
4. Make the goal with a friend or group of friends. If you are trying to lose weight, get your spouse on board to exercise with you or to make a similar commitment to eat healthier. If you are trying to read a book a month, start a book club. Have a friend meet you at the gym 3 times a week. If you want to write more, start a blog and ask your friends to follow.
5. Evaluate your results. Set an end date and set aside time to evaluate how you did throughout the year towards your goal. Every goal achieved and not achieved is a chance to learn. Maybe you only read ten books instead of twelve (odds are that’s about nine more than you might have otherwise). Maybe you only lost 35 pounds (that’s still 35 pounds!). Maybe you quit working out in February because you got a cold and never went back. Figure out what went wrong and what went right. Take the time to measure how far you have come and challenge yourself with something new for the next year.