It happens every year. Many people make New Year’s Resolutions and within the first two weeks of the year they’ve already been broken. Once broken people usually give up and then joke about how they’ve already failed at their New Year’s Resolutions. Sad but true. Losing weight and quitting smoking seem to be two of the most popular on people’s lists. People say things but then there is no real action.
My first suggestion is to not refer to them as New Year’s Resolutions. It seems that’s the first step to doom. It’s become so acceptable to laugh about not sticking to your resolutions. Perhaps if you refer to them as goals for the new year, you may see it differently. Then make a plan of action that you will actually commit to. Make them realistic because setting unrealistic goals is typically a recipe for failure.
I have a few suggestions on how to keep your New Year’s Resolutions. These are six steps that I believe, if you follow through, will help you not only keep your resolutions but even meet some of the goals you have made.
Step 1: Don’t Just Say it….Write it Down!
That’s right. Often times people just talk about what they want to do. They talk about the resolutions they have made for the new year. But how often do people actually write them down? Write down what your resolution is and make sure you are very specific. Don’t just say, I want to lose weight.
Being specific means saying, “I want to lose 25 pounds by July 30.” or “I want to save $1000 by June 1.”
Step 2: Be Realistic.
When you set a goal making sure it’s realistically achievable is very important. Now that doesn’t mean set your bar so low that you meet it too easily. But you should make it something that is not only a challenge, but one that you can meet and feel good about it once you’ve accomplished it.
For example if you’ve decided you want to save more money be specific as I stated in step 1. Say something like, “I want to save $50 a month.” But if you know you have so many financial commitments that this would likely be impossible then you’re setting yourself up for failure. If money is tight and you still want to save money how about looking at saving in other ways.
If you buy coffee every weekday at an average of $2.00 per day, that’s $10 a week you could be saving. How about buying coffee at the grocery store and making coffee at home before you leave. That coffee could cost anywhere from $4.00-$8.00 dollars depending on the brand you choose. It will last you a month or more depending on what size you purchased. In the long run you’ll save money. It may not be $50 a month but, it would be closer to $40 a month you save (after the cost of coffee from local grocer).
Step 3: Keep Track
Keeping a record of your progress is a sure way to feel a sense of accomplishment. It’s also a way for you to whip your butt into shape when you see your falling behind in the goal you set.
Don’t be discouraged if you haven’t met a goal by a certain time. That just means you need to re-evaluate the schedule you set and continue moving forward.
Step 4: Tell Someone
Sharing what you are doing with someone who can hold you accountable is very important. They are sort of like a coach. Someone to remind you when you’re slipping and need to keep going.
Also finding someone who has the same goals you do can be a great help. You can encourage each other and even possibly attend events or join organizations that will keep you both focused on the goal you have in mind.
Step 5: Limit the Number of Goals
When you set too many goals it can become overwhelming and seem impossible to meet any of them. The other problem is if you have a list of ten things and you only meet two, it can be a little discouraging to look at.
Stick to two or three at the most. That way, you stand a chance of actually accomplishing them. Once you have then you can move on and add others.
The reality is striving for goals is difficult because it involves changing habits. Humans are creatures of habit and it can take a long time to break old habits. There are many factors that doctors say goes into how quickly we can change a habit. One thing is for sure, it varies for each person. Expect to take at least two months or more to break a habit.
Step 6: Be Consistent
The key to reaching any goal is consistency. Repeat, repeat, repeat. That is the way to break old habits and start new ones. Once you do something often enough it ends up becoming a habit.
Now I hope that these six steps will assist you in reaching your goals for 2013. Remember it’s one step at a time.
Good luck! 🙂