How did you start into the New Year?
Did you make some New Years Resolutions? If yes, you are in good company. According to statistics 45 % of Americans and 32% of Brits are making New Years Resolutions, I am sure it’s a similar percentage for other countries.
Every year when the old year comes to an end and the new year is within reach, we automatically start to think how we want to everything be so much better next Year. How we finally will
- lose that weight
- get in shape
- get organized
- save more and spend less
- quit smoking
- quit drinking
- or whatever it might be (for you).
But when we check the statistics again, we see that unfortunately most of us don’t keep these resolutions up very long. In fact 25% abandon their resolution after just one week! And as I wrote about in my post “5 Tips on how to implement a Budget” only 44% are still hanging in there six months later. Life happens and we get busy and forget all about it.
But what to do instead? Is it ok to just drift through the days, weeks, months and years without any aspirations?
I don’t think this is in our nature either. We love to dream and make plans and we get disappointed or even frustrated when we once again look back and realize we haven’t made much progress.
So instead of setting New Years resolutions it might be better to set goals:
A goal is a desired result that we wish to achieve
while a resolution is a decision we make and try to keep.
(check out this page for a more detailed discussion about the difference between resolutions and goals)
The problem with resolutions is that they are often too general and vague. A goal can and will support your resolution if it is set right and most importantly measured. Just like resolutions we can’t just make up goals over Champaign on New Year’s Eve and then hope and pray for the best. Instead try this:
- First of all, please set your glass of Champaign aside and grab a pen and paper and write your goal(s) down. If you do so they become more real and less of wishful thinking, you also tend to think things through while writing.
- A goal should be S.M.A.R.T. wich is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Result-focused, and Time- bound
- Then break your big, long-term goal into smaller chunks, into short-term goals. Goals you can achieve within days or weeks rather than a goal as far away as the end of the year (or with no specific date in mind).
- Now you actually have to work to achieve these goals, you have to carve time out of your busy schedule to focus on them and work towards achieving these short-term goals, which eventually will lead you to your big overall goal.
- To not lose track and even forget about it, you need to review and measure your progress on a regular basis.
I think the fifth point is where most people fail (and I am no exception) and that’s why we often don’t achieve our goals and therefore, our resolutions. You may have heard the saying “What gets measured gets done”. So make sure you check in regularly with your goals and review how you are doing.
Review your goals
Ask yourself the following questions:
- am I making progress on this goal?
- is there something I am proud of?
- is there something I could do better?
- is there something I should have done more of?
- what will I do in the future to improve in that area?
So if you have set some New Year’s resolutions, consider to change them into goals, s.m.a.r.t. goals that is, work on achieving these goals and don’t forget to regularly review them.
Now two more things to be aware of:
Some people suggest you should tell the world about your resolutions or goals so you feel like you have to do them now. But this might be contra-productive as Derek Sivers pointed out in this 3-minute short and to the point TED Talk from 2010:
The second and important factor to be aware of:
Mercury Retrograde began yesterday and is going on till January 25th, 2016. This is a time where technology breaks down, you lose items, you are late or your travels delay, arguments arise out of nowhere, and you make mistakes easy. This is not a time to make important decisions and/or sign important contracts. After January 25th, when Mercury goes direct again, you will have a better chance of success in all areas, including working on and achieving your goals.
Instead, use these 3 weeks to clean up unfinished business, de-clutter your business, your office and your computer. Make room in your life and calendar to work full throttle on your goals after the 25th.