Dictionary.com defines the word resolve to mean: “to come to a definite or earnest decision about.” Definite: sounds pretty decisive – almost guaranteed. Then why is it that 80% of all New Year’s resolutions are broken within the first month? I have a theory….. nomenclature. Yep, the name is what’s killing us. We’ve taken an idea – resolving to accomplish something – and degraded it to where it’s nothing more than a loose list of things we should or even might do. Rules? As Capt. Barbossa said in Pirates of the Caribbean, “We think of them more like guidelines.”
We go into this resolution thing knowing that most people (even you and me) can’t or don’t keep them. That’s a big negative right out of the blocks. So let’s reposition this whole dilemma. Let’s take it out of the realm of resolutions and let’s create goals and/or objectives for the year.
First, let’s get some things straight about goals. Some folks say that you should set achievable goals, ones that are not too difficult. Others say you should shoot for the moon (after all, what if you want to triple your income and only increase it by 250% – that’s not bad). I believe both. You should probably have goals that are easy, difficult, short term and long term. So let’s start with the list. A list? Yes. Write them down!
I begin by writing down everything I want (need, desire, want to attract). I like to sticky note them with one goal per note (there I go “going analog” again). Basically I divide my goals into areas of my life. My categories are: Family, Physical, Business/Work, Social, Financial, Emotional/Psychological, and Spiritual. Some goals overlap, but mostly the system works for me. During this time of goal writing, two things are important: 1) that you set a timeframe for writing and do nothing but write what you want (I like 10-15 minutes according to how long it’s been since I last did this task) and 2) that you believe there are no limits.
Once the list is finished, give each goal a timeframe. Because these are “resolution” or annual type goals, most of your timeframes will be 12 months or less (having said that, once you examine your goals, you will find that some are more long term in their nature). Here are my classifications: less than 3 months, 3-6 months, 6-12 months, 12-36 months and 3 years +.
Next, prioritize your goals. Which are most important? Take 6-12 (or more if you are an overachiever) and write a paragraph about WHY you will achieve each. Not how, why. The why is the benefit for you, the answer to the question “what’s in it for me?”. At this point, we’re not concerned with the HOW of our list. As Tony Robbins says, “get a big enough WHY and you’ll figure out HOW.” Make sure your goals are written in the positive, and as many experts maintain, in the present tense (I am, I do, I weigh, I earn…).
Most goal/resolution projects end here, but I ask a bit more from myself (so I will request it of you). Make a list of the resources you have to help you accomplish your goal. Who can help, whether it’s encouragement, participation, accountability or financial. Look for resources that are also models of the person you will be once you have achieved your goal. Ask yourself how they got to be who they are and what you could learn through modeling them.
Then, let’s list our potential obstacles. I teach that behavior is predictable. I know that also means MY behavior is predictable. If I examine obstacles early, I can create strategies to avoid or overcome them.
Finally, for each goal, create an achievement plan. What do you do to make it happen? Or maybe, how do you STOP doing what you do that sabotages your efforts? This plan may include daily, weekly or monthly checks and balances that keep you firmly targeted to your outcome. You know you better than anyone, so institute a plan that you can make work. Whether it’s affirmations, a buddy who holds you accountable or self floggings – stay on the plan (knowing that the beauty of any good plan is your ability to be a little flexible).
So, now we’re ready. We’re lean, mean goal machines. All that’s left is what Nike tells us: Just Do It!