It’s time to make resolutions again. We’ve reflected on the year with all its ups and downs, know what we look like and who we are in the mirror, and we’re ready to go forward with new goals. Unfortunately for a good number of us, we’ll relapse back to where we started within the first few months. We do this every year whether the goal be to lose weight, save money, or chase a dream. There’s always a roadblock that grinds our momentum to a complete stop. Wouldn’t it be great to set out with resolutions and know you’re going to achieve them all — even the audacious ones?
Resolutions don’t have to cover one year. They can be goals that take you into the next chapter of your life. But whatever the case, you need to address them one day at a time. You also need to understand why you’re choosing the resolutions you’ve set for yourself. And for those of us that don’t believe in resolutions, we need to understand what is it that’s keeping us from annual goal-setting. Is it our low success rate in the past? Is it because we know we have motivation issues? Is it because we honestly don’t know what we want from life?
It all starts with values and passions. If you need to jog the thought process, check out this post I wrote that explores how you’ll want to be remembered in the end. It’ll put some things in perspective and give you a basic roadmap of what you can do to get there. If one of your resolutions is to find a new job, go through the post I wrote on creating an effective cover letter. If it’s a goal to have more productive relationships, you may find this read on listening helpful.
But again, it starts with values and passions. These are the things that fuel your actions and keep you moving even when things get tough. It may be worthwhile to have a resolution to find out what it is you really love, and what it is that you value (i.e. recognition, family ties, wealth, health, etc.). Think about why you enjoy doing the things you love and list out the reasons. Think about the things that have motivated you or made you say “eff it” in the past, and figure out what the most basic elements were. Your values will be hidden in the details.
Once you do this, your resolutions will become clear and they’ll be more likely to stick. You’ll also experience less doubt because you know the greater purpose and what it says if you stop trying to get there: what you thought was important wasn’t as important as you claimed it to be. At this point, it’s okay to regroup and rework your goals need be necessary.
Within my resolution and goal-setting process, I’ve opted to go the SMART route:
Saying “I want to be a better person” is cool, but it’s vague. There are a lot of things that go into being a better person. You need to write down what those things are and pick a few to focus on. Maybe it’s being in closer contact with family, volunteering regularly, or finding a church home. The more specific, the better.
The best goals are the ones that can be quantified. If you can’t quantify them, you really can’t measure your progress. People like to chase numbers. It sparks competition with self. It also gives you something to work with for the next year. Like I mentioned, maybe it’s a certain number of contact to family and friends. Maybe it’s eight trips to the gym per month and hitting some specific strength goals. It could be attending six networking events in the field you’d love to break into. You can make a big chart for yourself and keep track of the progress on all your goals. It should be somewhere that people can see when they visit you. The more people that are aware of your goals, the more accountable you become for completing them. It’s part of that whole speaking it into existence thing.
For a goal to be attainable, it should be something you really think you can knock off in the selected time frame (more on this below) — which in this case happens to be a year. Maybe you have bolder goals that won’t be accomplished in that time, so you come up with smaller and more incremental goals that will help you get to the big one. They’ll also allow you to achieve smaller successes along the way. Small wins lead to big victories.
Don’t just set crazy goals for the sake of setting crazy goals. You need to have the tools available to help you achieve success (maybe it’s a goal to get all those tools). You’re not gonna be president in 12 months, turn into a super model overnight, or increase your income by $50K in a year unless you’re a big hood boss. Dreams take time. Even the successful went through a stretch where their names weren’t known. It just happens to be the case that people forget that part once the person makes it big time.
It doesn’t have to take you a year to accomplish each goal. It can be a few months. Regardless, you need to put a time limit on it. And if you hit your goal before then, ante up and put a new time frame to get to the next level. If you’ve never been through this process before, you may have to make a few adjustments during the year. That.Is.Ok.
Hopefully you find this helpful. If you already have resolutions in place, try to apply this model and see how thorough you are. If you don’t have goals or resolutions, take a few days or a couple weeks to map out what a successful 2012 will look like for you. And as always, you know where to find me if you have questions.
Happy New Year,