A new year and new resolutions. Rinse and repeat. Almost everyone sees the start of a new year as an opportunity to make changes in our life. The frustration comes when we get to the end of January and feel like we have made no progress on those goals. There are numerous explanations for this annual cavalcade of failure. We lack drive, determination, willpower, or we are simply not good enough to reach our goals.
I would argue that none of this is true. I have seen some many examples of success that I have come to think our biggest weakness is simply a lack of confidence. You can accomplish your personal goals. It is just a matter of choosing the goals and your steps in a way that is manageable.
Make Resolutions For Yourself
First and foremost, you have to select resolutions that are your own. If you decide to earn or save more for a fishing vacation for the family and you don’t enjoy fishing, then punt on that resolution. If your goal is to have a cleaner house, but you are happy with the house as it is (other than when relatives visit) then skip that resolution. These are just a couple of examples. That is the first step. Pick goals based on what you want for yourself. Avoid changes that will make you into someone others say you should be, rather than who you want to be.
I have almost no willpower but have been able to be successful with several resolutions. This includes some goals that were not really enjoyable but were because I felt I needed them to be a better/healthier person. These are the lose weight, stop bad habits, etc. resolutions. They way I have managed to make progress is through baby steps.
A good resolution will include a way to make some progress on that resolution every day. Exercise goals can be advanced daily by taking five minutes to do jumping jacks or do a push-up. Savings goals can be simplified down to a bucket of the savings and any amount of money you place in the bucket is a step closer. A popular approach for savings using the “bucket” method is to drop your pocket change in the bucket at the end of each day. Even a few cents more is a few cents closer.
Resolutions that include major changes like stopping a habit completely or going in a new direction are quickly forgotten. You can try to stop smoking in a day, but that is harder than stopping over the course of a year. You can launch a new business in a month, but it is better to do it over a year. Baby steps work for big changes, they just require time frames to be adjusted. For example, I decided I wanted to learn Italian as a resolution a few years ago. I am still working on that at a pace of roughly ten to fifteen minutes a day.
For example, I decided I wanted to learn Italian as a resolution a few years ago. I am still working on that at a pace of roughly ten to fifteen minutes a day. I have had days that I made no progress on this goal. However, it is easy to spend a few minutes on most days and move forward on that goal. I have come a long way with this goal and those daily minutes of learning have become part of my regular routine. Use time to compound your investments in your goals.
Daily Checkups – Keep It Manageable
They key to successful resolutions is to keep that daily progress going. Create a habit of spending a few minutes assessing your goals each day. If you only have a few goals then you can make forward progress on each of them in a single sitting. That leads to another key of success in keeping resolutions. Keep your resolutions manageable. If you see yourself as a train wreck and you have too many weaknesses to change then go back to baby steps. Make one or two easy-to-achieve resolutions. You can chip away at your list by adding a few more each year. In fact, one of the best approaches I have seen is to pick a single word
In fact, one of the best approaches I have seen is to pick a single word for each year. Focus on that word in your life. Patience is one I have used and that was a huge goal, but easy to advance each day. My kids tried my patience on a daily basis. Thus, if I had one instance where I took a deep breath and had some patience I counted that as progress. It may seem like unnecessarily patting myself on the back, but over time those little steps and daily wins added up to better habits.
You can start today. Pick a goal and make progress on it. Even if your progress is planning on how to make progress tomorrow, you have at least taken that step. Resolutions are not impossible; they just have to be set in a way that you can achieve them