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Did you make a New Year’s Resolution last year?  How did they work out for you?

Are you making resolutions for the upcoming New Year?

A few years ago, I made a resolution to stop making resolutions. So far, it is working quote well.

Instead of making resolutions this year and make smart goals you want to reach? There are a couple of reasons why resolutions may not work well for you. If they do, great. Keep doing what you’re doing, but if resolutions are not working well for you then read on.

We’re so used to breaking our resolutions, that we think it is ok try a little and then give up. Think of how many times you broke a resolution in the past. For many, it is making a resolution to get in better shape or lose weight. In January, you are on track, then February comes. After March, you might have broken the resolution…just as the previous year. People think nothing of breaking a resolution because they have done it so many times before.

It’s a mindset thing. A goal on the other hand, particularly if it’s a smart goal (more on that in a minute), is something we believe we can reach. A reachable goal makes us work a little harder and not give up on the result we envision in our minds. Once again, it’s a mindset thing.

Resolutions tend to be vague: we want to lose weight, get back in shape, stop smoking or make more money. None of those are very specific. We should ask questions like…

  • How much weight do you want to lose and in what time frame?
  • When do you want to quit smoking and how are you going to get there?
  • What does it mean to you to be in shape?
  • How much money do you want to have in the bank and what do you want to save it up for?

Goals allow you to be a lot more specific. You can set attainable goals with a deadline and milestones or mini-goals along the way; this makes a goal a smart goal.

For most people, a year is too long of a time frame for a single goal and that’s what we make resolutions for, isn’t it? We make them on January 1st and we make them for the entire year. A year is a long time unless you set mini-goals during the year.

There are two problems with a single, year-long goal. Early in January we feel like we have lots and lots of time to get our act together. (Have you ever been there?) A couple of cookies or slices of pizza in January won’t hurt if we have until December 31st to lose the weight. Then time gets away from us and that’s when the 2nd problem arises. Losing 25 pounds over the course of a year seemed doable. But if you have made no progress in October and have Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas ahead of you, it now seems like an impossible goal to reach.  (Have you never been there?)

So, what should you do instead?

It’s fine to make a goal, or call it a resolution if you’d like, at the beginning of the year but don’t stop there. Be specific in goal setting. This is where planning your goal will enhance your desire and vision to achieve the result.

Ask yourself a few questions:

  • What’s the goal you’d like to reach? Put down a number, or describe what your end goal looks like.
  • When do you want to reach your goal by? It could be December 31st, but it doesn’t have to be. Some goals are shorter than an entire year; but they still need to have a date attached to them.

Next, set mini-goals along the way. If you have a big goal like using 25 pounds during the coming year, set mini goals of losing 2 pounds every month.  You will need to lose a little over 2 pounds a month to reach your 25 pound goal, but creating a solid, tangible plan allows you to achieve a greater momentum.

Check in every couple of weeks and make sure you’re still on track. If you can, get ahead of schedule. Things will happen during your year: you’ll get sick, there’s a wedding to attend with lots of good food, etc. Getting ahead of your goal schedule gives you a buffer and all this tracking will help you keep accountable and stick with your resolutions well into spring and summer.

Remember, you can call them resolutions if you want to, but changing your terminology can make a big difference in your outcome.

Start setting your goals, but do not forget your mini-goals. You will need these to track your achievement and give you small success along the way to a greater success.

To your success,