Pamala J Vincent has a few ideas to help you start AND finish your year a little better than in the past.
While in the gym, struggling to complete the last of the planks and sit-ups, on the wall is the saying, “One year from today, what will you have wished you started?”
The truth is Jan. 2017 will arrive one year from today whether we complete a goal or not. Statistics report that 8% of people will be successful in achieving their resolutions. They testify that only 75% of us will maintain our resolutions through the first two weeks, and then it drops to 64% after a month, and only 46% after six months.
I’m not particularly fond of New Year resolutions, but I am a proponent of planning. It takes a lot of processing to evaluate where I am in my journey and where I want to be the next time I ask myself. Then it takes courage to write these goals down because now I have a black and white list that will either demonstrate success or failure. We can’t complain about where we are in life if we are not willing to plan for a better one. Call it a resolution, a life strategy, or organizational design, we all need a blueprint to move us from a rut to the finish line.
Here are a few tips on keeping your New YOU resolutions:
Attack one goal at a time. Too often we either set unrealistic goals or make too many resolutions. Try taking yourself on as a coaching client. You’ll need to assess you objectively. List your strengths, your weaknesses, and the areas you want to change or celebrate. Then I make a plan. Work backward from your goal to where you are today. Break success into smaller steps and get started on the first one by mid-January. If three months from now, you’re still stuck, you need a new strategy.
Make your goals measurable or don’t make them. Understanding precisely what you need to do to meet your target and then writing it down, will lend itself to your success. Saying something like I want to lose 50 pounds isn’t a measurable goal. Instead, say I plan to lose 50 pounds in five months. That works out to ten pounds a month, or 2.5 pounds a week. Do you know your current calorie count? How many calories will you need to decrease and burn per day, to meet your goal? Get real, find out, then stick to it. The same goes for quitting smoking: don’t just quit cold turkey, put on the calendar how many cigarettes you’ll smoke each day (decreasing every few days) until you meet your goal.
Connect new habits with old habits. In this hurry-up world, it’s easy to forget your new goals. Connecting a new habit with the routine of an old habit may help you remember your target. For instance, I place my floss by the remote control for the T.V., so when I sit down to watch the 10 P.M. news, I remember to floss. I put my vitamins in the cereal bowl, so when I eat breakfast, I remember to take them. I’ve also changed the coffee stand I go to every day to the one near the gym so that I work-out first. Simply placing a bottle of water on my work desk when I quit for the day, reminds me in the morning to start drinking my water.
Take small steps and celebrate the milestones. If you’ve written down the incremental steps on a calendar for each goal, then celebrate them. When you’ve cut down to three cigarettes a day, or have gone 30 days without using your credit card, celebrate! Be sure your celebration isn’t using that credit card or smoking, replace it with something you’ve wanted to do: like a hike or coffee with friends.
Tell someone. Talking about goals with an accountability buddy can help to cement the plan. Give them permission to ask you how you’re doing or join a group that is like-minded.
Focus and be present in the moment. Make realistic goals, write them down, and review them daily. It only takes a moment to look at your goals. Then start your day aware of the things you want and mindful of the things that knock you off your plan. If you eat because you’re with friends, order smart, and spend more time listening to them rather than mindlessly eating. You get the idea.
Self-improvement is valuable. New Year’s resolutions are good excuses for starting what you already know what you want. Carve out alone time for planning the new year. Set goals, spend quiet time, outline, pray, and commit on a 16-month calendar your plans for purposeful living.
Define yourself. Who are you? What do I want to represent to the world, family, and clients? What will your purposeful design be for 2016? What new you will arrive on January 2017?
Photo Credit: Jeff Golden/FLICKR