Did you make some New Year’s Resolutions? Many, if not most, people do take a few moments to reflect on the previous year and how they want the upcoming one to be different. But change, though relatively simple, is rarely easy. The average resolution lasts just six days before it’s completely abandoned, only to be remembered sometime in late January. By that time, we just say, “Oh, forget it” and chances are better than even that you’ve already given up on at least one of your New Year’s resolutions.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Take a look at the Top 10 New Years Resolutions:
- Spend more time with friends and family
- Get in better shape
- Lose weight
- Quit smoking
- Enjoy life more
- Quit drinking
- Get out of debt
- Learn something new
- Help others
- Get organized
Every one of those “resolutions” are huge, vague aspirations that fall more into the “it would be nice if …” category rather than the “here is my specific plan to accomplish X” category.
But even grandiose plans are no good. You can create a huge spreadsheet detailing your exercise plans, or your dieting plans, or your get out o debt plans, or whatever, but when 5AM rolls around and it’s time to get out of bed and begin that 2 mile walk … things change. The blankets are so warm and the air outside is so cold!
What’s the best way to achieve your resolutions?
In a simple phrase, one day at a time, one small goal at a time.
Far too often our goals are out of touch with reality and though it’s admirable to reach for the stars, you will never reach one. Let’s reach for something that’s actually within reach. Change your big time goals into daily successes. Instead of setting a goal to “lose weight”, set a daily goal to only eat 1,500 calories today. Instead of setting a goal to “exercise more”, set a daily goal that today you will walk 2 miles today. Instead of setting a goal to “get out of debt”, set a daily goal to put aside an additional $2 each day to put towards your debt. Instead of setting a goal to “quit drinking”, set a daily goal that you won’t have a drink today.
I personally think the whole problem with our current state of goal setting is that we believe that every goal has to be a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) and it puts us all into a funk. We look at this enormous mountain and we start trudging but after a couple of days, we don’t notice any significant progress and giving up not only becomes easier, it becomes the next logical step. After all, of the 14,100 feet I have to climb, I’ve only accomplished 120 feet in 6 days – whereas if we had set a goal to climb just 20 feet per day, we would be right on target.
I’m not saying that all goals should be ridiculously easy. What I am saying is that our goals should be attainable and reachable for no other reason than an attainable goal is more often reached than one that’s out in space.
How many goals should we set each day?
I think we should set no more than 5 goals per day. Any more than that an we’re overloading our brain. Try setting daily goals such as:
- I will eat 4 servings of fruits/vegetables today or
- I will exercise by walking 2 miles today or
- I will not smoke a cigarette today
- I will save $2 in cash today to put toward my debt today or
- I will open a brokerage account today or
- I will set up an automatic savings account deposit today or
- I will establish a budget today
- I will spend 30 minutes reading to my son today or have a tea party with my daughter today or
- I will spend 30 minutes just listening to my spouse today or
- I will spend 30 minutes reading my Bible or devotional today or
- I will spend 30 minutes volunteering at my local favorite charity today
- I will get all my reports completed and on my boss’s desk today or
- I will contact 4 recruiters in my industry today and send them my resume today or
- I will try to see things from my boss’s perspective today
- I will make three people smile today (do this every day and you’ve made over 1,000 people smile in one year!) or
- I will plant, fertilize and water one vegetable plant or flower today or
- I will learn more about [insert favorite subject] today or
- I will organize my [pantry, closet, files, etc] today
Notice what every one of these resolutions has in common? They all have the word TODAY in them. What’s freeing about this type of resolution-making is that if you screw up one day, you can always set another one tomorrow. You can start over each day … as a matter of fact, you’re REQUIRED to start over each and every day.
Accomplishing goals helps you enjoy life more! That’s #5 on the most common New Year’s resolutions.
Anyone can set a goal
But not everyone accomplishes the goals they set. Those that do, do so by breaking down those lofty, BHAG goals into manageable chunks.
Once you get on a roll of setting and accomplishing these smaller goals, make sure you don’t break the chain! Keep on setting and keep on accomplishing those little goals and before you know it, you’ll be able to say, YES, I did accomplish my New Year’s resolutions. You’ll be in the minority but it is oh so sweet.