As the end of 2014 comes to a close, many of us are taking time to reflect on the previous year. Now is the time we begin to evaluate everything we accomplished (or didn’t). We look at the struggles we endured, and how our lives may have changed. Some will look back with satisfaction and content, while others will feel the disappointment of goals unmet and dreams lost. It’s only natural that we evaluate on some level how “successful” we were in the past year.
Then, after a moment, we gaze to the future with excitement, anticipating how the next year will be different and better than the last. Keeping with the traditions of years past we allow ourselves to dream of all that could be accomplished in the 12 months or 52 weeks to come, and we set goals or resolutions for ourselves. As the year begins, we start our new exercise routines and begin buying better foods. We make that first deposit into our savings account or we set our alarms a little earlier the next morning. All seems to go well; but then, life hits – old habits come back with a vengeance and we fall into the same routines we had in previous years. Suddenly the year is over and we didn’t lose the weight we wanted, our savings accounts are not as full as we had hoped…and the cycle continues.
As you prepare for 2015, here are six ways to break the cycle. These steps are often used by top performers and business, and will help you get the most out of your New Year’s resolutions.
- Get Specific. In order to achieve a goal, you must first know what the goal is. Define the outcome you are working toward. It is important to differentiate intent from what the actual goal should be. For example, you may want to get in shape. That is the intent. Your resolution should clarify how you want to get in shape. Maybe it is to lose 50 lbs., set up an exercise routine 3 days a week, or develop healthier eating habits. Whatever the goal, it is important to be diligent and clearly define what it is you actually want to do.
- Measure Progress. Once you understand the goal or outcome you desire, create a way to measure it. Creating a way to measure progress will help you break down your goals into smaller milestones and provide you with valuable feedback along the way. If you want to lose weight, how much? By when do you want your office to be organized? When do you want to run your first 5k? How much time a week do you want to devote to your important relationships?Once the goal is measurable, it can be evaluated. At this step, don’t just define how progress will be measured, but also develop a schedule to review your progress and make necessary course adjustments along the way.
- Make it Attainable. It is important to distinguish your New Year’s goals from your Big Dreams. Big dreams are BIG and achieved over longer periods of time. New Year’s resolutions should be smaller goals that can be achieved within 12 months. Eliminating $20,000 of debt is a great goal to have, but most will find it very difficult to achieve within 1 year. The key is to make sure you have the time, energy, and resources readily available to devote to accomplishing the goal. If the capacity is not available, then you may want to rework the resolution to make it fit. To stay motivated, keep the resolutions focused on short-term wins that help push you closer to achieving your big dreams.
- Keep it Relevant. This step is crucial to aligning your energy and efforts with your Big Dreams. There are many great goals that we can set, but to get the most out of our efforts, we should always be working toward a larger life dream. With each goal you set, ask yourself, “how does this goal help me achieve my dream of______________?” If the goal doesn’t fit, scratch it off your list to save the energy and time to do something more productive and fulfilling.
- Set a deadline. Setting a deadline allows you to create a plan for each step necessary to meet the goal. If the goal is to lose 90 lbs., a deadline of December 15 allows you to break that goal into smaller numbers. To lose 90 lbs. in a year, you would need to lose about 1.8 lbs. per week. By having a deadline, we can set a workout schedule that would help us meet a weekly weight loss routine to meet our goal.
- Share the goal with someone. We often underestimate the power of sharing our goals with others, opting instead to keep them written on a piece of paper that eventually gets buried under the junk mail and daily clutter of our lives. To get the most out of your goals in 2015, find a coach, mentor, friend or peer to share your goals with, and who will help you be accountable to your schedules. Sharing your goals with others makes you accountable for the results.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it will get you on the right path to setting and keeping your new years resolutions in 2015.
Is there anything you would add to this list that we could apply to increase our effectiveness with setting and meeting New Year’s resolutions? Leave some feedback in the comments below and let’s start a conversation about it.