Online Exclusive: Make your New Year’s resolutions stick
Do you remember your 2009 New Year’s resolutions? Did you stick to them? If you answered yes, you are in the minority. If you answered no, don’t be discouraged. Most resolutions fall by the wayside because we are not adequately prepared to fulfill them. We set ourselves up for failure by thinking that simply resolving to achieve some life-changing goal is enough.
The successful pursuit of any goal or resolution depends on organization. While organization cannot itself fulfill a goal, it provides the necessary framework that you can fall back on again and again when willpower and desire wane. So many of us burst out of the gate in January only to fall short of our goals by March, perhaps it is time for everyone to collectively try some “baby-stepping” to pursue our goals.
Prepare for the journey
Preparing for the journey itself is an important step that many of us overlook. Anyone who has ever tried a weight-loss program knows that planning ahead – preparing snacks to combat hunger and being fully stocked with healthy choices in your kitchen – is critical to making the major changes that are required to lose weight for good.
For many people, the minute that they do not have healthy items available and are required to make an impromptu choice outside of the plan,- things fall apart. One small unhealthy choice, and you feel that you’ve ruined the day, the week, the month, the whole program!
Instead of allowing these little things to derail you, it’s time to break the goal down into small, manageable steps and manage your own preparedness. In other words, get organized so that you limit the opportunity for deviations from the plan and make it easier to get back on the wagon when you’ve slipped up.
- Make time to prepare for the pursuit of your goal.
- Identify your end goal and map out some milestones along the way.
- Really think about the practical execution of this plan. What concrete changes will it take to make this goal a reality? How will I pursue this goal physically and mentally? What milestones can I plan for on my way to achieving this goal?
The right tools
Along with managing your preparedness, do you have the right tools in place? If your resolution is to get fit, your tools will be things like a gym membership, a pedometer, a running partner, good-quality athletic shoes, etc. If your resolution is to get out of debt, your tools will be a personal financial plan containing information like interest rates, payment minimums, a projected end date, a payment schedule and the weekly meeting with your significant other.
If your resolution is to find a new job this year, your tools could be your updated and maximized resume and LinkedIn profile, your updated networking and contact list, a list of professional development opportunities, or a job search plan including identified dates for meeting certain goals. Getting your toolkit organized eliminates the potential for external excuses for failure.
Sunday night planning
Have a short Sunday-night meeting with yourself to plan how you will work at your resolution during the week. You can identify the obstacles that lurk in your schedule that are resolution derailers waiting to happen. If you have resolved to work out four days per week, pick your four days ahead of time based on your schedule for the week.
If your resolution is to get out of debt, your Sunday-night meeting with yourself or your partner can be about assessing the upcoming week’s bill payments, budget and expenses. If your resolution is about reducing stress, your Sunday-night meeting time could be about carving out time to take a walk, get a massage, or giving yourself time to read or play with your kids.
Working on your resolution a little each day and setting a realistic pace for goal achievement is key to successfully pursuing and reaching your desired end. A home and a lifestyle don’t become cluttered overnight; likewise, getting out of debt or reducing your overall stress level will not happen overnight. Happy New You!