Happy New Year! As midnight came to pass, and I celebrated the New Year, I couldn’t help but think of all the wishes and hopes and dreams that people held in their minds for 2013. Marking a new year isn’t just about the future, but also about laying the past to rest so that we can continue our journey with lighter hearts and minds.
Most people take this opportunity to commit to resolutions for the New Year. Statistics show that 45% of Americans usually make New Year’s resolutions, and only 8% are actually successful in achieving those resolutions. That’s a very low success rate. Fortunately, there are simple ways to help make your resolutions stick.
- Choose one or two specific goals. If you set vague, undefined goals, they will be much harder to achieve. Give your goal a number. For example, if you want to make more money, set a goal for the exact amount of money you wish to make, or, better yet, the actions you will take to get that money. This will solidify your resolution and give you a specific number and goal to work toward. For fitness, each month you might set a goal to walk two blocks three times a week. If you want to get out of debt, plan specific actions, such as cutting up your credit cards, or paying off a specific amount each month. These kinds of resolutions give you specific actions to take that will lead you in the right direction.
- Make your goals achievable and reasonable. For example, if you have a weight loss or exercise goal, don’t just resolve to lose 50 pounds or go to the gym every single day. This will be overwhelming and discouraging right from the start. If you miss a day, for example, your whole resolution is blown! Set multiple levels of the same goal, and start small. A small goal would be to lose 5 pounds the next month. A higher level goal would be to lose 10, and an “outrageous” level of that same goal would be to lose 25 pounds. This way, even if you don’t achieve the outrageous goal, subconsciously you didn’t fail since one of the other levels was reached. Coach Raymond Aaron calls this non-binary system “MTO” which stands for “minimum,” “Target” and “Outrageous.” It works simply because, instead of the normal “Pass/Fail” way of setting and achieving goals, you give yourself a chance to gain a minimum foothold each month for success!
- Tell someone about your goals. If you tell a good friend or family member about your goal, you’re more likely to stick with it. Once someone close to you is aware of your goals, they’ll probably remind you of it by asking about your progress. If you can find someone who wants to work on the goal with you, even better! It always helps to have support.
- Track your progress. Be accountable to yourself. If you can’t or don’t want to share your goal with anyone else, you can always get a calendar. Every night, sit down for a few seconds and note whether or not you made any progress. There’s no need to be judgmental about this, just keep track of what you’re doing. This way you’re more likely to stick to your goals and notice when you’re slacking off.
If anything, you can resolve to apply these goal setting guidelines to at least one or two specific goals this month. The set other goals each succeeding month. Give it a try – I bet you’ll have great results!