We’re approaching a new year and the overwhelming tradition of resolutions. Jan. 1 of every year has become that day when we make our lists and proclaim this will be the year we change our lives for the better. Losing weight, breaking bad habits and saving money usually top the lists.
Will your New Year’s list look like last year’s list? For most of us, it will be very similar. So why are New Year’s resolutions unsuccessful? Simply put, it’s because there’s no plan to follow.
This year, don’t call it a New Year’s resolution list. Call it your goals list. The reason I encourage the change is this: Goals work. Goals mean action. Goals involve a plan.
Most of us make a list for the grocery store or errands to run or create an agenda for a meeting. These activities have one thing in common — they detail what needs to be done and how we intend to do it. Whether you realize it or not, you set goals each day whether they’re written down on paper or compiled in a mental list in your head.
When you write your goal list for 2017, begin by asking yourself some basic questions. Why do you want to achieve these goals. How will it change your life if you do?
The second step is to prioritize the items according to what’s most important to you. Limiting a goal list to only a few items you’re really serious about will make it easier to devote the time and attention needed to make you successful.
Take one item at a time and turn it into a goal. Try using the SMART system when writing your goals:
- Beginning with “S,” make your goal specific. You might write down your top goal is to “lose weight.” How much?
- The “M” stands for measurable. You have to be able to measure your progress.
- The “A” stands for attainable. Divide a big goal into smaller goals. Remember the joke about how to eat an elephant? The punch line: One bite at a time.
- The “R” stands for reasonable. Many people set unrealistic goals. Create a goal you can actually see yourself completing.
- Last but not least, the “T” stands for timely. Goals take time to achieve. You need to know how much time you’re willing to spend to achieve your goal. Most importantly, give yourself a timeline of when you want to achieve it.
Another important factor in realizing your New Year’s goals is accountability. Decide ahead of time each week what you plan to do. Take two group exercises classes, attend a strength-training class or exercise with a buddy, for example. Tell someone who’s close to you about your plan, then ask for help in keeping you on track.
Setting goals that follow the SMART plan and holding yourself accountable will lead to success. Planning and commitment make the difference between realizing the goals you want to achieve to enhance your life or waiting until January 2018 and putting the same items back on your list. Challenge yourself to set goals this year, not resolutions.