Why is it that many of us make the same resolutions every New Year’s but seldom keep them? Could it be because we’re setting unrealistic goals for ourselves that we can’t possibly achieve? This type of goal setting only serves to discourage us from striving for future goals. Instead of planning for success, we’re setting ourselves up for failure.
When making a resolution or setting a goal, you should follow the S.M.A.R.T. system for maximum success:
Here are some common vague New Year’s resolutions along with tips about how to turn them around into resolutions that can bring you astounding results:
- Losing weight. How many of us make the resolution to "get in shape" or to simply "lose weight?" This isn’t a specific goal, nor does it contain any sort of measurable timeline in which to perform the task.
- A better solution would be to say, "I want to lose _____ pounds by _____ (date). I will do this by following these steps: (change of diet, exercise plan, etc.)."
- A specific goal establishes what you want to accomplish, by what time, identifies requirements and constraints, and lists benefits of reaching that goal.
- Spending more time with family. Another common New Year’s resolution is to spend more time with family and friends. Again, you need to have a plan to do this. Simply stating that you will spend more time with your family won’t make it happen. This may not even be a very attainable goal if you live far away from your family or can’t give up time at the office.
- Look at your schedule, evaluate your priorities, and make the necessary changes to free up the time you’ll need to spend the extra hours with your family.
- Establish exactly how many extra hours you need to make this happen. What will have to be rearranged? These are decisions you need to make to accomplish your goal.
- Quitting smoking. The average smoker tries to quit at least 4 times before he actually kicks the habit. Why? Because it’s easy to get discouraged when you try one method and it doesn’t work. You need to have numerous back-up plans because one product or method doesn’t work for everyone.
- Make sure the goals you set are realistic. Don’t expect to stop smoking in a week or maybe even a month. You’ll only become disheartened if you fail.
- Set reasonable goals such as, "By ___ (date) I will only smoke ____ cigarettes a day." Slowly become less dependent on them until you reach your goal.
- Getting out of debt. This is a resolution that requires much planning and usually involves a change of lifestyle. If you’re living in a cycle of debt, you need to plan a strategy to cut your spending dramatically, as well as pay off the debt you already have.
- Set specific goals such as "I will have ____ (amount) paid off by _____ (date). I will do this by cutting ____ (amount) from my spending each week." Without a reasonable timeline in place, you’ll slip back into your old habits.
- If your total amount of debt is large, break the debt down into smaller, more attainable goals. Pay off one credit card at a time and take pride when you get that final statement with a zero balance. Also consider talking to a financial advisor who can help you set a reasonable plan for you to follow.
Resolutions take work, there’s no denying it! Simply saying that you resolve to do something is not sufficient without having a plan in place to do it.
Now that you know the problem, you can stop making the same resolutions year after year! Using the S.M.A.R.T. system as a guide, you can actually attain your goals in the coming year and become a better person for it.