Every year around now the time honored topics of New Year’s Resolutions and whether or not to make them comes up. People debate the merits of these oft-made, and nearly as oft-broken, promises to ourselves and, increasingly, decide just to skip the whole business altogether.
But I’m an advocate of the much maligned New Year’s resolution. New Year’s resolutions are nothing more than goals. Good resolutions are SMART goals, that is, goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely.
I think that the reason so many New Year’s resolutions fail is that they are not resolutions at all. Instead, they are dreams or desires. Most are nothing more than something we know we should do.
I know that I should eat less chocolate but I LOVE chocolate, especially the super dark rich kind, and I am doing absolutely nothing to cut back my consumption. I also know that I should drink more water. The difference is that drinking more water is a real resolution. I have a target and a plan to get there. While I occasionally fail, I am resolved and, for the most part, have been successful.
Want to make more achievable New Year’s resolutions? Stick to these rules for greater success:
1. Make goals that are meaningful to YOU. The fact that you should do something is seldom motivating enough to make a goal achievable. Last year, instead of making the same old “get in shape” goal, I decided that I wanted to be in great condition for bicycling without aches and pains during my upcoming trip to Amsterdam, one of the cycling capitals of the world. Now THAT’S motivation.
2. Be prepared to move quickly to the planning stage of HOW you are going to achieve your goal, because a goal without a plan is just a dream.
3. Share your New Year’s resolutions with others. Just having other people who know about your resolution makes you more accountable. My coaching clients tell me all the time that not wanting to come to a coaching session without being able to report progress is a powerful motivator to work on their goals – sometimes only hours before our session.
4. Don’t have too many resolutions. Goals are more powerful when we can focus on just one or two.
5. Of course, you don’t have to wait until the New Year to make resolutions. Anytime that is meaningful to you can be productive. Some people think of resolutions synonymously with ‘spring cleaning.’ I find that the Fall, when the kids go back to school, is when my mind turns most to my resolutions. Of course, if you pay attention to number 4 above, anytime you finish a goal is a great time to start a new one.
Last year, with my company approaching its 10 year birthday in 2015, I resolved to update and unify the company’s marketing. No one was complaining about the current marketing and people consistently complimented the website, so I didn’t have to do it but it was meaningful to me (#1). I hired a team and we put together a plan. Despite lots of challenges, together we stayed focused on executing the plan and being accountable (#2 and #3.) Outside of my clients, this has been my primary focus (#4) and you’ll be able to see the fruits of our labors when we launch the new branding on January 13.
Then I’ll be ready for some new resolutions (#5).