There’s something noble about resolving to improve yourself or better the world, especially when you are able overcome great obstacles. On the other hand, we humans seem hardwired for failure, so not making good on our goals is all too frequently the norm.
According to an Opinion Research survey, only 8 percent of Americans actually follow through on their New Year’s resolutions. The fact is, many of us will have slipped on our promises by the time of the Super Bowl. Ouch.
So if you don’t want to be sitting there on the couch at halftime thinking, “Man, here I am eating too many nachos again,” consider these tips to improve your odds:
- Set realistic goals and put them in writing. I like Melanie Marttila’s recent post on New Year’s resolutions and SMART goals, “Resolve not to resolve,” where she spells out specific, actionable goals for herself in 2013. Having a written plan and a timeline really improves your chances for success. When setting goals, keep in mind this quote from T. Boone Pickens: “A fool with a plan will beat a genius with no plan every time.”
- Look back to look forward. It’s always a good idea to review your progress before setting new goals. After all, how can you set realistic goals if you don’t know where you’ve been? That’s why I like Mary Fletcher Jones’ end-of-year post, “Looking back at 2012: the Fletcher-Prince annual report.” We’re all used to seeing annual reports from large organizations, but it’s also something you can do for yourself or your small business. If you can quantify your progress on long-term goals, that’s even better. It allows you to see how far you’ve come and to create reasonable goals for the new year. Again, putting it in writing helps!
- Focus on the positive. Motivational experts suggest that instead of trying to eliminate a fault or bad habit, pursue a positive goal. Suppose you’ve decided to eliminate soft drinks from your diet. Instead of obsessing on how many sodas you’ve consumed, make it your goal to drink more water. You’ll find that as you add water to your daily routine, this “good habit” starts to crowd out your “bad habit” of reaching for a soda. Pretty soon, you won’t even think about sodas. Well, at least that’s the theory!
- Consider the underlying motivation. Perhaps your goal is to save more money. That’s certainly a laudable goal, but what will you use the money for? Maybe it’s to take a nice vacation or make a down payment on a car. Make that your goal rather than simply saving money. The more tangible you can make the goal, the better.
- Make resolutions that give your life meaning. There’s no doubt about it, people who put purpose in their lives are happier and more motivated. You’ll naturally excel at goals that focus on the causes you feel passionately about, so why not resolve to work on a project that gives you satisfaction?
- Enlist the help of others. It’s extremely difficult to break a habit without the help of friends, business associates and family members. Surround yourself with boosters who can give you the encouragement you need to make good on your resolutions. Stay away from the people, places and things that invariably lead back to your old habits.
- Track your progress and reevaluate your goals. With a written plan and timeline, it’s easy to create reasonable benchmarks to track your progress. At the very least, put a reminder on your calendar to revisit your goals on a quarterly basis. Don’t be one of the 92 percent that never succeeds at their New Year’s resolutions!
Here are some previous posts that may also help you achieve your goals:
- Accountability groups, success circles and self-discipline
- Putting balance in your life in 7 key areas
- Climbing on the bus is just the beginning of the journey
- How many of these 10 habits are you passionate about?
- It makes no sense to have a plan if you don’t review it
- 4-year-olds and SMART goals
- Become a missionary for your cause or company
- Exercise, health and having a purpose