By Justinne Lou Go
NEW Year may have already been weeks ago, but it’s still not too late to make your New Year’s resolutions if you still haven’t. Yes, it would be ideal to begin applying your resolutions right at the start of the year, but resolutions are a serious matter and serious matters can take time.
According to the time management firm Franklin Covey, one-third of resolutioners don’t make it past the end of January. Why do you think many people fall off their resolutions along the year? Aside from us putting so much pressure on getting things started by January, I think it’s mainly because resolutions and commitment are an inseparable pair. Without commitment, it will be impossible to achieve anything long-term.
Resolutions entail commitment because resolutions are major decisions that involve change and habit. And we know that habits can be hard to build or break, so resolutions will definitely take time to achieve. Like what Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit said, “If you’re building a habit, you’re planning for the next decade, not the next couple of months.”
So, don’t worry if you haven’t made your resolutions or haven’t finalized them yet. Let’s not even call them resolutions; let’s call them goals. That way, some of the pressure is toned down and it sounds less intimidating. Take as much time as you need to create realistic goals that will not just push you to the corner of disappointment or frustration by the end of the year.
Here are a few tips to help you make fail-proof goals for this year:
One of the most common causes of people giving up on their resolutions is due to their reason/s for making the resolutions in the first place. Don’t make resolutions based on external pressure—by what people think of you, say about you, or even what they are doing that you aren’t doing yet. Make resolutions/goals for yourself because you honestly want it for yourself. Life is about our why’s, our purpose; in everything, we always go back to our why’s because this is what keeps us going.
2. Build on your strengths, work on your weaknesses.
Before anything, you must get acquainted with yourself for you to be able to make relevant and realistic goals. Of course, if you’re working on a better self, then you must know yourself. Take some time to do some introspection, identify your strengths and weaknesses, and from there, create goals that build on your strengths and also those that can help you improve your weaknesses.
3. Keep it real.
If you’re serious about helping yourself, you have to be your own best friend and be honest with yourself. The way to solve problems is to first identify the problem. So, if you can identify what you really need to work on then you’re on the right track.
4. Short but sweet.
Another mistake people often make when crafting their resolutions is that they tend to create a long laundry list, which makes these goals overwhelming. Zoom in on the most important things you’d like to work on, maybe limit the goals to three or five items and work on each goal one at a time. Remember, your goals are most likely to involve building a habit so these take time. It’s better to have a few goals and achieve even just one as compared to having a long list of goals and not achieving a single one.
5. Be accountable.
The bigger the goals, the more support you need. We have to accept that along the way, we will definitely face obstacles or feel vulnerable to temptations of doing things that can take us a step backward from achieving our goals. To help prepare for these times, we will need people we can trust to help keep us on track. Share your goals and plans with someone you trust or you can also share some of your goals and progress online so people can call you out when you’re starting to slack off.
6. Track your progress.
Writing down your goals and posting them where you can always see them is a great idea to help keep you on track, but it shouldn’t stop there. Tracking your progress is just as important as writing down your goals because this is how you see where you’re at in achieving your goals—an assessment and re-evaluation of your timeline.
7. Celebrate to motivate.
Don’t be too hard on yourself especially when you find that you’ve gone off course. Whether for a day, a week, a month, be quick to forgive yourself and just start over. Starting over is always better than giving up. Winners don’t quit, and quitters don’t win. So, celebrate even the small wins. Reward yourself for keeping your hands off the chips all day, for avoiding soft drinks all week, etc. Of course, if you’re like me who’s working on weight goals, you don’t reward yourself with unhealthy food.
So, if you’re wondering how goals should be written, we can apply a popular management principle that I’m pretty sure most of us are familiar with—the acronym SMART, which stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound.
A few examples of common resolutions/goals that can be revised with the application of the SMART principle are:
I need to lose weight.
I need to exercise three times a week.
I need to be healthier.
I need to eat at least three servings of vegetables every day.
I need to manage my finances better.
I need to save at least P2,000 a month.
I, myself, am working on a few goals this year, one of which is building the habit of consistency. This means I need to have a routine that puts this into practice and part of this is my efforts for my weight management. In my case, I motivate myself and keep myself accountable by posting my first day of working out again on social media so I would feel a sense of embarrassment if I don’t stick to my resolve to work out regularly. Because, once we make announcements, we can be expected to dish out the result or product right? The most important thing is, you’re creating goals to better yourself. It’s not a competition, but rather, a process — a work in progress.