Okay, maybe the chocolate thing is just me, but I hope you get my point. I read every day about people who are able to create a plan and change their lives, but talk to many every year who set New Year’s Resolutions only to have them come to nothing. Another year, another resolution. Like empty chocolate calories, three weeks later the resolution is gone and you’re back at the same spot you were when you began. Why bother with resolutions in the first place?
Let’s face it. Most people have a horrible track record of keeping New Year’s Resolutions. Why is that? How come the gym is packed on January 2nd with good-intentioned individuals huffing and puffing through a workout, only to abandon ship by February 1st? Some blame it on a lack of discipline and our immediate gratification culture. Others blame it on too many priorities and too little time. Although both of these might factor into the reasons people don’t keep New Year’s resolutions, I think there’s a more fundamental problem.
If you want to keep your resolutions this year, it’s really not that difficult. You just need to stop wishing for your goals and create a realistic plan to achieve them. Become serious enough about your future to follow three simple steps that most people never consider.
1) Write down your goals. Any New Year’s plan should begin with written goals. Why? You’re much more likely to achieve what you want if you commit it to writing and keep the goals in front of you. Your goals need to be realistic and have a concrete time frame. If you want to lose weight, think about the number of pounds you want to lose and set milestones. Maybe it’s a pound a week. Maybe it’s two pounds. If you’re going to go to the gym more often, turn the goal into a set amount of time you’ll spend at the gym. If your goal is to save for retirement, set an amount you’ll save from each check.
2) Write out “why” you have a resolution. Going to the gym is a great goal for the first two weeks of January, but how likely is it that you’re going to stay motivated for the next 52 weeks just because you think you “should” work out? However, if you’re working out because you need to be healthy to keep up with children, a significant other, or just live longer, you now have a reason when your initial excitement begins to wane.
3) Find a coach or friend to hold you accountable. It’s easy to stop managing your credit card debt the first time a “30 percent off” sale appears on your favorite sweater. If you have to report your results to someone, you’ll be more inclined to stay at your goals, to prove to your coach or friend that you mean what you say.
Three easy steps, but they’re each a powerful component of winning the New Year’s Resolution game. Writing down your goals makes them real. Instead of floating around in your head, they’re tangible things that you’ve articulated. Asking yourself “why?” gives your goal clarity, making the path to success bright when life throws a curveball. A big part of achieving what you want involves directing your subconscious mind on a problem. Have you ever heard the phrase “you are what you think about?” Asking “why” creates focus. Focus creates urgency. Urgency creates that extra step each day that may be the difference between gaining nothing and achieving your dreams.
Finally, finding a coach helps you stay on the New Year’s Resolution wagon. I’m always discouraged when I hear people say, “no, I’ll figure this out on my own.” Why reinvent the wheel? If someone else has a good answer to the problem, use their answer. If someone can help you reach your finish line, you’re that much closer to the next finish line beyond the horizon. Plus, a coach or friend is a great person to celebrate with when your resolution becomes reality.
Happy 2011 - I wish you all the very best as you achieve your dreams in the New Year!