Set Goals Instead of Making Resolutions
Resolutions don’t work! Resolutions are usually all or nothing. Resolutions are more extrinsically about what you think you should be doing (losing weight, exercising more, etc.) instead of intrinsically about what you want to be doing. Don’t use other people’s expectations to define you in 2017. Since resolutions rarely have personal relevance (are not intrinsically driven), over 75% of resolutions go unfulfilled. The timing may not be right, either. Think about it—the end of the holiday season when things are gearing back up for 2017 may not be the best time to implement New Year’s resolutions.
Instead, set goals. Borrow from Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People— begin with the end in mind. What is it you really want to be able to do? Break that long-term goal into smaller short-term goals. Be SMART– the acronym SMART helps us set goals that are:
Specific—Go to the gym two times per week between Jan 1 and March 31 is specific; exercise more is not.
Measurable—two times per week is measurable—you either went or you didn’t.
Attainable—two times per week is not out of reach for most of us.
Realistic—two times per week also is realistic—most of us can carve out this amount of time (especially since we did not say for how long each visit would be).
Time-bound—between January 1 and March 31 is not only time-bound but adjustable based on current conditions. Perhaps the motivation will be increased by reaching this goal so that April 1- June 30 goal is 3 times per week at east once each month in addition to two times per week the rest of the weeks.
Be sure to look at your overall wellness (see Wellness Wheel above). If your wheel is out of balance, the wheel is flat. What do you have to do in 2017 to balance your life? Which element(s) of your individual wellness have you been neglecting? Prioritize the goals that bring your wellness back into focus.
Remember, goals are more effective than resolutions. Clear and targeted short-term goals (usually three months or less) connect to your long-term ambitions. Clearly-written goals help increase self-confidence and problem-solving strategies (realizing the path to meeting your goals is not always linear, but may have ups and downs along the way). When setting SMART Goals:
- Frame your goals in a positive sentence. Write what you want to do, not what you don’t want to do.
- Set goals that are just beyond your reach, but not far beyond your reach. Having a challenge improves your motivation to achieve the goal
- Set three goals. This is the number that seems to work best.
- Write down your goals and post them in a prominent place. Ask someone who can support you in the process to sign off on your goals.
- Plan for adjusting your goals. Sometimes, the unexpected happens. Have a plan for how you will get back on track.
Plan your reward for reaching each goal and what the next short-term goal will be to reach your long-term goal. You can do it!