How to Succeed at Your New Years Resolutions!
It’s that time of year again. Many people will take this naturally logical time (with the turn of the page on the calendar) to set New Year’s resolutions. They resolve to accomplish something, change something, do more of something, less of something or stop doing something altogether. New Year’s resolutions can be thought of as a goal setting exercise. Yet, people tend to be more successful at formally setting goals than they are at following through on “resolutions”. Why do people fail at resolutions?
One explanation is that verbally resolving to change something, do something, or stop doing something is not a formal process. We make the statement at a time when everyone is festive, i.e., during the holidays. We exclaim what we want to happen, but don’t necessarily make it specific, or create an action plan for accomplishing the resolution. A formal process would suggest you write down your goals and then you set up tasks that you would complete to reach those goals. You would put up milestones and measure them. You map out alternatives for what happens if you don’t reach a milestone and need to take an alternate path. You have a plan in place for action, measuring progress, and ultimately reaching your goal.
The verbal resolution is something you casually mention to friends, family, and coworkers. Most people are well-intended with their resolutions. However, the fact that most people give up on them (typically within the first two weeks of the year) means we’re doing something wrong, just by declaring our wishes. In fact, the entire process has almost become a joke for many people. Common mis-steps include setting too many resolutions, selecting something that someone else thinks you should change or accomplish but that you don’t really care about, aiming too high for something that’s not realistic, setting an overly ambitious timeline and then giving up when we don’t meet it, etc.
Does this mean all New Year’s Resolutions are doomed to failure? No. It wouldn’t take much to find several people who successfully reach their New Year’s Resolutions and do so year-after-year. But if you ask these people how they go about it, they will probably tell you that they formalized the process and committed it to paper. They likely set SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely). They went one step further and created an action plan, plotting specific tasks onto their calendar or setting mini-deadlines for milestones of their goal. They broke down big goals into bite size steps so that they weren’t overwhelmed. They measured their progress and made adjustments along the way to success. They celebrated their accomplishments, reinforcing the positive feelings they created by executing on their action plan and ultimately reaching their goal.
If you have not been successful with your New Year’s resolutions, don’t beat yourself up and give up on goal setting altogether. You can still set goals and formalize your own process to use now or any time of the year. If you could use some support in setting New Year’s resolutions that stick this year, please let us know. We’d be honored to partner with you in your success!