New Year’s Resolutions (Again)


Well it’s New Year’s resolution time again. How many times have you been here before? This is the year I am going to get fit, lose weight, and quit smoking or drinking.  These resolutions reflect your vision of who you should be or want to be is. Gyms get full and bars slow, but by February it is business as usual.

Did you ever consider why it is that few of these resolutions ever work? The resolutions based on what we consider we should be are destined to fail; this is not your passion, it is what you think everyone else would like you to be. If you think about this it makes sense. But why would something you actually do want or are passionate not be easy to achieve? In most cases it is because we want it but do not develop a plan that has time lines and an action plan. A goal without a plan is just a dream.

First, evaluate if the shoulds are important to you. If they are turn them to musts with a plan. If you don’t get very clear about what is important to you, and what you need to do to accomplish it, odds are old habits and everyone else’s priorities will fill your life, and this time next year things are likely to be pretty much the same, or worse.  Of the 700 minutes of productive time available each day, how many minutes of your day are focused on activities that will get you to where you want to go?  “If you do not know where you are going, you may end up somewhere else” Yogi Berra.

You may be aware of SMART goals (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timed) or some variation of this. This works well most of the time but for me this approach presents one major problem in that what most people consider realistic is well below their potential because others have often told them to“ get realistic” meaning lowering their expectations. The other difficulty I have with this approach is that there is no ecological check – is this what I want and need. You must evaluate that first. Roger Ellerton (www.renewal.ca) has changed the order of the letters and added two more to create the acronym MASTERY. The two new letters are E for ecology and Y for yearning. Be congruent with yourself and passionate about achieving the goals.

Take the time to evaluate your values. Why is this goal important to you? Is this something you are willing to hold yourself accountable for? It also helps to up the ante by examining who else might be affected by this goal. This is very powerful.  For example, if you read a study that says 7 of 10 smokers die of cancer that might provide a little motivation. If, however, the reason you want to quit is so that you will be around, and in good enough shape, to dance at your granddaughter’s wedding that is a commanding motivator. Reduce these goals to the three most important to you.

If the goal has that kind power and motivation, then develop a detailed goal and a set of steps required to reach this goal. Put each of these goals and the required steps on an index card and review them a couple of times a day. Research shows you need to see this at least twenty one times to make the required impact. Once you have it clear what you want, take a few minutes every morning or evening, relax and close your eyes, and form a vision in your mind of what it is like having achieved this goal. Form this vision and think “as if” you have already achieved it. This is a significant tool in achieving your goals as your subconscious sees this as what you want and works to ensure you achieve it.

Keep score, at least weekly, on how you are doing. This can be even more powerful if you have an accountability partner; someone you have shared the goal and timeline with and they will check up on you as well to see how you are doing. Why not get a partner and become each other’s accountability partners? No excuses, just be accountable for what you say you will do. If you are not achieving your goals where is your life going?

May this be your best year ever and may next year’s resolutions truly be new.  My perennial favourite is weight loss. I have been using a new strategy since November and am down two pant sizes. I will share the trick in a future posting. Why not beat the crowd and start working on your next three goals as soon as the first three are complete? Imagine where you would be with three new goals achieved every three months? Wow! Have a great year!