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The beginning of each year feels like a clean slate. It’s the chance to make improvements in your life by trying something different. It’s also a chance to cross off some of the items on your life bucket list. You make a new year’s resolution to lose weight, find a new job, get promoted in your current job, start a new business, travel to more countries, run a marathon, organize your home, save money, etc. However, while most intentions are well and good, statistics show that only 8% of people who make new year’s resolutions actually keep them.
How do you set achievable goals and follow through with them? Here are six ways:
1. Make general goals specific.
Better yet, quantify them or provide a level of detail you’d be able to put on your calendar today. Blanket statements like “I’m FINALLY going to lose weight” probably won’t work because they’re too vague. Writing “going to lose weight” in a 12-1pm slot is probably less attainable than having something more specific like “attend spinning class.”
Or in the area of travel, let’s say you’re from Kansas and want to visit New York City for the first time ever. That’s great, but that’s not necessarily going to get you anywhere specific in New York. You can fly from the Midwest to JFK Airport or La Guardia but if you don’t know where specifically in New York you want to go, you’ll still be stuck in the airport.
Where in New York do you want to visit? Do you want to go midtown via the red, double-decker bus and see the Empire State Building followed by dinner and a Broadway play, or would you prefer a downtown walking tour by Ground Zero and the Freedom Tower?
2. Know your reasons.
If your reasons aren’t strong enough, you’re probably not going to have enough fuel to power through. What’s your reason for the goal in whatever area of your life you’re choosing to focus on: health, money, finances, relationships, career, home, organization, etc.
With losing weight, do you want to lose 10 pounds in six weeks so you could fit in the bridesmaid’s dress for an upcoming wedding, or are you looking to lose closer to 30 pounds in six months, to gain muscle and train for a more hardcore spartan race you just saw on TV? With these goals, you could see a tangible result and transformation in both physical appearance and on the weighing scale.
Now in addition, how exactly do you want to feel after you’ve accomplished your goal? Do you want to feel more energized and less sluggish? More calm and less stressed? Think about the endorphins you’ll feel from gaining more energy and having a stronger body. What’s your core desired feeling? It may help to use a feeling word as a theme in achieving your goal, like “energy,” “vitality,” “strength,” etc.
3. Add a twist to your goal.
Break down the goal further step by adding a time-crunch motivator. You want to set something on calendar that would be hard to back out of, like a race or contract. Like with weight loss, sign a contract with a personal trainer AND register for a 5K run/walk race a couple months into the future so you’re FORCED to do the work and exercise. It may also help to put this on social media so people can call you out and make sure you don’t completely back out.
If you’re looking to leave your job, book your favorite bar or restaurant for a “celebration” or “private event” 2-3 months from now with the idea that this will become your going away party while you send out resumes and interview with potential new companies in the interim. Also, write out your resignation letter and tell a trusted friend or mentor you will send it on a particular date so you have no choice but to go through with the tasks.
4. Break down your goal to daily habits.
By now, you should have a milestone date scheduled on calendar for a particular goal. You set the date for when you will participate in a race, travel for your trip, start that business, etc. In the meantime, think about scheduling WHEN you’ll be able to do the work to reach your goals. Most of the time, people fail to achieve their goals because they haven’t scheduled a time to accomplish them so by default, simply don’t do them. Schedule time in your calendar either early in the morning before work, during lunch break or after work, it doesn’t matter just get it ON there and commit to it! Don’t have time and have family obligations? Hire a babysitter or have a friend or family member watch Johnny and Sally for 2-3 hours on a weekend or whenever you have free time.
5. Track your progress.
What you measure gets improved, so either keep a journal, excel spreadsheet, google docs, or one of the many related tracking apps out there of what you’ve accomplished no matter how small. With a weight loss goal you could track your weight weekly. Also track what you eat and which exercises you did daily so you’ll know how much calories were taken in and how much energy gets exerted. You’ll also have a record that you’ve followed through. What you measure gets improved.
If it’s something like job searching or business creating, have a checklist of items with target dates and report your progress to an accountability partner, coach or mentor. Use social media to your advantage and publish blog or Facebook posts of how you’re doing.
6. Be flexible.
Life happens and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean you get off the bandwagon completely if things slide. Make the choice to get back up and continue regardless. Also, if there are things that need to be changed for emergency, allow yourself the buffer to sort out the issue, but schedule to get back on track.
For any goal to stick, have reasons, get specific, add a twist, make it a habit, track and be flexible. If you apply these tips, you could totally accomplish your new year’s resolution!
What’s your new year’s resolution and what will you do to make it happen?