Happy New Year!
I wish everyone a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year – perhaps with a stress on “healthy” given what the world has been dealing with over the last couple of years.
Did you make a New Year’s resolution or two?
Have you broken the resolution or resolutions already?
Don’t fret if you have. It is common for New Year’s resolutions to evaporate into thin air the moment January’s fresh air and reality strike.
Why is this?
Well, you can blame yourself, others, or fate, but that doesn’t get you anywhere except maybe depressed and waiting for next year to try again. More about this truth a little later. Playing the blame game doesn’t get you anywhere. So, let’s frame it a different way.
Instead of making resolutions, plan to make goals. Now, depending on your definition of the words “resolutions” and “goals,” my previous statement could just be semantics. I think, however, that most people think and act on resolutions and goals differently.
Most New Year’s resolutions are made at, or near, the last minute. I don’t mean literally, although that can happen, too - a worst-case scenario if copious glasses of champagne are involved. People tend to think of their resolutions just as that special day approaches. They might think of them again in January when the resolutions evaporate, and they make promises to reconstitute the resolutions “next time,” but that’s it.
Make goals or redefine resolutions.
When making goals, try to define the goal and then establish some steps toward achieving each goal. That’s one of the problems with resolutions, and it can be the same problem with goals as well. We often say, “I’m going to…” or “I’m not going to…” without any thought about how this will work in real-time or real life.
“I’m going to study more.”
That is a fine goal (or resolution), but it doesn’t provide you with a roadmap of how you are going to get there. It doesn’t even define what “more” means or “study” for that matter. You might be thinking to yourself that everyone knows what these simple words mean. What is Ron talking about?
There are many methods of studying and many topics to be studied. Are you going to take a course on how to become a better student? Are you going to simply incorporate the study techniques you already know? Which ones? How often? Where will this happen? How will you avoid the pitfalls from previous years? How will you know if you have achieved this goal? (Technically, if you study for five more minutes per week, you have succeeded, but is this really what you meant? No.)
You can see that there are a lot of unanswered questions in that simple statement. It leaves far too many escape routes!
Another difference between the way people think about goals and resolutions is that you can set goals at any time throughout the year. The problem with New Year’s resolutions is that once you break them many people feel they can’t start again until next year (another cute escape route).
You can always reset a goal. If you like, you can always reset a resolution. There is nothing wrong with restarting your resolution on March 1st or June 15th for that matter! You simply reestablish what you want to achieve, provide yourself with steps (the roadmap) to get there, and some method of measuring your success.
Tips to help
Here are a few tips to help make your goals – or resolutions – work for you.
1. Make achievable goals. Set yourself up for success not for failure. Some goals are unrealistic and bound to fail.
2. Write down your goals. The act of writing out your resolutions or goals can completely change your commitment to achieving them. Make it real!
3. Jot down the positive results. Beside each goal or resolution, write out the benefits of reaching your goals.
4. Don’t let “slip-ups” stop you. If you aren’t following through with your original goal, revisit it and ask yourself why this is happening. Your goal might need to be reframed. The steps to achieving it might need to be smaller, or the timing might need to be changed to make it more achievable. Whatever the case, don’t simply throw up your arms in defeat! Instead, get back on track and work toward the goal (or reframed goal). Try again.
5. Be positive. Always think about how you can achieve your goals or resolutions. Think, but also act in a positive direction to move you closer toward the goal no matter what the obstacles.