You know you want to change, and New Year’s resolutions are a way to express that desire. Maybe your resolution for 2019 is that you’ll get in shape or you’ll ask for a raise or you’ll learn Spanish.
How you can you make that happen? Your goal may not be new—probably you’ve been thinking about it and kind of trying but it hasn’t happened yet. My diagnosis: your objective lacked clarity and you didn’t have a plan.
Let’s take “getting in shape” as an example. It’s an admirable goal but what exactly does that mean? How are you going to do it? You can distill this objective using the mnemonic SMART which spells out the key steps to goal setting. A goal should be:
Take your objective of getting in shape and make it specific. Does that mean losing weight, running farther, or maybe hitting the gym more often? Clarify what it means and then break it down into small, achievable pieces.
These pieces become your plan. Aiming for interim benchmarks and achieving them increases your odds of reaching your ultimate goal. If getting in shape means losing 20 pounds by March 30, break that into smaller increments and fix dates to achieve each increment—perhaps three pounds by January 15, another three by January 30 and so on.
A common reason New Year’s resolutions fail is that we have too many of them. Each of us has a finite amount of will power not to mention time and energy limitations. If you have too many goals, your effort may be pulled in too many directions and you may become frustrated. Choose just one or two over-arching goals for 2019.
Don’t let past failures with New Year’s resolutions deter you from setting your sights for 2019. It takes courage to identify goals but without them you will muddle through each day’s routine again and again and again until a year has passed. You’ll be a year older but chances are, you won’t be any closer to becoming a better you.
Set aside some time and identify your goals for the coming year. Be specific and create a plan. In the words of Yogi Berra, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”