How to set goals and resolutions that work!

It’s that time of the year again. Yeap, THAT time. Where your Facebook accounts get flooded by ‘goodbyes’ to yesteryear and ‘Hellos!’ to the new year. It’s also the time of the year where you scroll down the status updates and see running commentaries of how great the past year has been to your Facebook friends and a resolve to make the next even better.

So you sit there and wonder “It’s time to set a New Year’s resolution!” to make my life as great as all these people. First of all, do you know that only 8% of Americans keep the New Year Resolutions they make according to one Harvard professor? That’s a staggering number. Chances are, if you’re gonna make a resolution list – you’re gonna fail.

But fret not! There’s a common set of reasons why people fail and you can avoid this. This article, though, is not about why people fail to keep their new year’s resolution but its about how you can keep yours. Here’s how:

1. Keep your resolutions brief. Meaning: stick to 3 resolutions at most. I know I know, you’re probably going “That’s too little! I want to transform my life this new year! I need major changes in this new year! I wanna lost weight, read more books, make more money, gain more spiritual insight etc.’ 

Chances are, if you’re gonna make a shopping list of items you want to do – you won’t be able to do any of it at all. Stop making out the new year to be a canvass for you to re-mould yourself. Stop pinning for a transformative year to bring out a new you. I’m not saying that’s impossible but I’m saying it takes time – lots of time.

So start small, stay realistic and you’ll increase the chances that you’ll actually make positive changes to your life NOW. Forcing you to focus on that 1 or 2 areas that you’d like to make the most improvement will also give you greater clarity on what you want to achieve and how best to arrive there. After all, your neighbor/college/dog probably wants to lose some weight, eat healthier, make more money, and have better relationships. What’s so different between you and them?

2. Make your resolution specific

“Losing weight” and “making more money” sounds good. But you know what they are? They are weasel words! For any resolution (or goal) to come to fruition you need to be laser specific. I offer that it needs these three elements: specificity,time-bound and measurable.

An example: “I want to lose 3 kgs (specific & measurable) within 6 months (time-bound & measurable) this year”

Add these elements into your resolution and you increase your chances of actually seeing it through.

3. Make your resolution action specific

Ok, so what if you want to lose 3 kg 6 months? How do you intend to reach there? For that to happen, you need an action plan, a blueprint, a ‘next-step’ directive.

To follow the previous example:

“I want to lose 3 kgs (specific & measurable) within 6 months (time-bound & measurable) this year. I intend to do this by:

– Running 3 times a week (Mon, Tues, Sun)
– Eating salads for lunch at least one time a week (Sun)
– Reduce soda intake by 2 cans a week”

Your action-steps need to be specific, time bound and measurable as well. Do not give your mind an escape route! Your mind is lazy and loves to do ‘nothing’ so leave nothing to chance. So although “running 3 times a week” is good, it is not good enough because your mind can also narrate to itself “I can put this off till tomorrow”.

Leave nothing to chance!

4. Review your resolutions constantly

A resolution, contrary to popular practice, is not simple a 1-time thing. For it to be most effective, it needs to be constantly reviewed. And ‘constantly reviewed’ is not and should not be simply left to your own whims and fancy. Set a ‘review rule’ and make sure you review it say monthly or bi-monthly to assess where are you at vis-a-vis your goal.

This makes your accountable to yourself and also make sure you’re on the right path. It would be good to have an external reviewer as well (your friend, spouse, colleague) to ping you at the set times so that you can do an honest account of where you’re at.

So there you have it, 4 simple ways to better managing and increasing your chances of success at your new year’s resolution! Feel free to share your tips and thoughts below in the comments section as well.